28 May Mum’s the Word: The La Jolla Secret Garden Tour, Part One
It’s time again for the La Jolla Secret Garden Tour, and this year, we got to attend as guests.
Last year, we were exhibitors. More than 250 people streamed through our place to explore our fruit trees, cacti, passion flower vines, air plants, carnivorous plants, Ryan’s furniture, et cetera. But the thing about being outdoor exhibitionists (ahem) is that you can’t venture out to see your fellow participants, because you’re hosting. So this year we were excited to spend an afternoon exploring six private gardens — in six wildly varying styles — otherwise hidden away in our charming beach town.
The tour was presented by the La Jolla Historical Society. It took place earlier this month, and highlights included a Moroccan-style courtyard where lanterns hung below a succulent-carpeted incline, a century-year-old rose garden surrounding a Craftsman, hanks of backyard bougainvillea and an impressive stretch of rock purslane blooms with an ocean view. Did we mention the actual human garden gnome at the elementary school?
And afterward, we drank wine.
Today we bring you the first house on the tour! Join us as we nose about the roses…
(Stay tuned for parts two through six, coming soon.)
House #1: Sprawling, sloped, where East Coast flair meets a very Pacific POV
Fun fact — during the 1950s and early ‘60s, this part of town was considered “far out in the country,” complete with stables and bridle trails. And according to the guide booklet, “a consequence of that development today is that many lots along the drive remain large with consequential spreading landscapes.”
This 1.21-acre lot is generous for sure, but it’s also welcoming (and it wasn’t just the musicians playing Baroque music) and bursting with plant life — in the backyard in particular. After passing under the shade of pines and melaleuca trees and blossoming beds of dahlias in the front, guests experience pure plant theater in the back: graded terraces built into a canyon with spectacular views of the Pacific. Overlooking the ribbon of water is a steep meadow of rock purslane (tall and blossoming in hot pinkish purple), carpet roses, Persian carpet (yes, the name of an actual plant), and clouds of climbers that create Insta-vignettes against the architecture. Painted ceramic garden figures kept things playful. One glazed Spanish planter caused us to shift of paradigms completely.
True to its California location, the house itself is ranch-style, but the brick terracing and Cape Cod-style siding and window details reminded us of our beloved East Coast digs.