20 May Mum’s the Word: Welcoming the ‘Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla’ to Our Home
The secret’s out! Last Saturday we, along with our newly fern-ified yard, were delighted to be included in the La Jolla Historical Society’s Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla. For years and years we’ve wanted to take the tour ourselves, which is, per the website, “a rare invitation to the public to stroll behind the garden gates of some of La Jolla’s loveliest, secluded gardens, normally concealed from view by strategic growth of mature trees, vines or foliage.” Every spring, we would see flyers at our nearby coffee shops and think, “We need to go to this!” But something would always crop up.
If only we knew that someday we’d be among the destinations. Earlier this year, the very lovely, very discerning members of the society got in touch, and after several visits and much consideration, our garden was selected to be one of the seven stops on the tour. Due to our garden’s smaller size, the committee featured our garden as a “Platinum Tour Bonus Garden.”
It was time to put our ongoing garden projects into high gear — how could we really make this place sing in just three months’ time? As you can imagine, the preps got intense. But that’s Ryan’s MO: go big or go home. Or rather, Go big INSIDE your home. He installed the abovementioned staghorn ferns, and we planted some new flora, including proteas and dahlias from Green Gardens, and, from City Farmers Nursery, tillandsias/air plants, Hylocereus (dragonfruit), and a Costa Rican butterfly vine to climb our TerraTrellis.
Ryan also built outdoor cedar walls for our “fireside room,” a midcentury solution to the ungainly reed fencing we keep banging on about. Within days, he also constructed two new modular chairs to complete a sectional for that area. On Friday, the day before the tour, I picked up some cut flowers (snapdragons, freesia, Queen Anne’s lace and peonies the size of duckpin balls) to arrange in Victorian-inspired tussie-mussies.
Per the tour’s concept, we had to keep everything sub rosa before the big day. It was not easy keeping mum!
But then Saturday arrived. After a week of scorching temps, the day was mild and breezy. The tour included self-guided guests who stopped by on their own, in addition to seven buses (!) full of guests who arrived at regular intervals — over 250 garden-lovers in total. The day was wonderful — the guests were enthusiastic about Ryan’s furniture and landscaping, including our outdoor kitchen and fireside room, his succulent tables, cage fans/pendant lights, outdoor shower, and ammo can herb wall. We also discussed our vintage finds (’60s Preway fireplace and egg chair from Craigslist), vertical shade garden and our collections of tillandsias and nepenthes pitcher plants.
Guitarist Dusty Brough filled the space with his dreamy flamenco-rooted, jazz- and folk-influenced music.
The wildly fragrant peonies stuck in vintage green vases were also a hit. The bees went bonkers for these flowers, which opened as the day went on, petals ruffling in the breeze.
La Jolla Historical Society volunteers were there to also answer questions about plants. Ditto a rep from the Master Gardener Association of San Diego County, whose website and hotline we will surely be hitting up the next time we need guidance with drooping plants or need some CSI into mysterious chomp-marks.
All the encouragement and questions and suggestions were incredibly inspiring. (Even as we silently fretted about the cobwebs we forgot/didn’t have time to clear away.) We’d hoped to check out the other houses on the tour, many of which we heard were spectacularly inventive, but there’s always next year.
Thank you to the La Jolla Historical Society for including us among so many fine spaces, thank you to the cheerful volunteers, and thank you to our lively and inquisitive guests. Check out more photos from that very active day, below…