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NEWS: 2017 Spring Garden Tour Garden Descriptions

Artistic Japanese

This 1/3 acre property in Loma Portal was featured in the January 2017 edition of San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles Magazine. The house and garden were created by the owner, who was a custom home builder. The garden has strong Japanese and Asian influences with an entry gate, teahouse, red bridge, window adornments, and sculptures. However, the garden also includes many other styles of artwork selected by the owner. One notable piece consists of two ironwork horses by Temecula artist Richard Breceda. The horses frolic on the front slope next to a boulder-filled creek bed that connects an upper and lower pond.

Located in full sun, the dry driveway garden contains many succulents and low water plants set among river rocks and garden objects with a recently installed 100-year-old olive tree at the center. A back garden, which recently replaced a lawn, creates another peaceful enclosed area featuring Asian plantings and artwork.

The homeowner has been gardening here for her entire life and it shows. The house was built by the current owner’s father in 1959, however, the owner didn’t start to really get into gardening until the mid-1990’s. The owner is self-taught and many of the plants were onetime houseplants that were set out into the garden – which do great in the very temperate climate just a block from the ocean. Today the garden has collections of Clivias, Sansevieria, aloes and cactus. Some her favorite plants in the garden are the staghorn ferns, plumerias, and a very large and old ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata). The owner has a great eye for plant placement and layering creating a garden that feels large, yet is very intimate.

Contemporary Simplicity

You will know the minute you see this home that an architect lives here. The contemporary lines of the home are echoed in the organized garden that is the creation of Ian Morris of Ground Level Landscape Architecture. The garden also picks up on the peaceful color pallet of the home creating a smooth transition from garden to house. Creative uses of wood pebbles, boulders, rocks, granite and stone paving squares – complete with fossils – ties spaces together to create a cohesive look. Set in bed of grasses and succulents, guests are greeted by a copper water trough with a ceramic cat fountain head at the far end. In the back, a wall of the house slides open joining the house and back patio into one large space for entertaining. At the far side of the patio is a granite faced wall with a cutout for a contemporary koi pond. The adjacent wall in terracotta orange features a large Balinese wood-relief carving.

Horticulture Wonderland

This home features a collector's garden, reflecting the owner's passion for drought tolerant Mediterranean climate plants, with well over 500 different varieties from the Mediterranean, South Africa, Madagascar, Western and Southern Australia, Chile, and California. An intimate patio contains waterfalls and eight connecting ponds, a grape arbor, four-in-one pear tree, and espaliered apple and fig. A flagstone deck below the house offers the classic La Playa view of ocean and bay, downtown, yacht clubs, Shelter Island, and North Island. A large compost area recycles all greens from the property, with the help of a chipper. Three raised beds are used for vegetables and flowers, each with its own electric fence to keep out the raccoons.

The homeowner designed and installed all of the landscape areas. The hardscape was installed by contractor Bob Mahy of Mueller Custom Homes, who constructed the new house in 2007-2008 following demolition of the previous residence. Only a Meyer Lemon and an old Pineapple Guava were salvageable from the original structure; all other plantings are new. Other than the classic Mediterranean plants, the garden features abundant Agave, Aloe, Aeonium, many succulents and some choice dwarf conifers. Acacia, Euphorbia, Pittosporum, Ficus, and Arbutus are well represented. The owner grew the rare Acacias on the property from seed.

Mid-Century Modern

Today this stunning and artistic 1959 Kendrick Bangs Kellogg (famous for his organic architectural style, and the Chart House restaurants) designed home sits nestled into a large garden designed by the original and current homeowner. The home features glass, wood and tile and a close relationship with the surrounding gardens. The distinctive turquoise tiles where handmade by Kellogg. Many of the fences, walls and garden paths were built by Nick Rosa. Some highlights in the garden are art pieces by Jim Hubbell. A new street-side mailbox made by the owner’s son matches the colors and theme of the home’s construction is a recent addition. Near the entrance the garden is an angled pond and water feature that adds the soothing sound of water throughout the garden. At the far back of the lot cut into the hillside, is a very large vegetable garden which includes six fruit trees. A borrowed view of the canyon and hills above blurs the edges of the garden into the native landscape. Notable plants are a large South African Cape chestnut tree planted on the property with the neighbor and a large bonsai in the front planter backed by more turquoise tile.

Palm Oasis

The owner has been gardening on this site for since 1971. The original house was a 1925 fisherman’s shack that, unlike other houses in the neighborhood, was set on the back of the lot. Over the years, the house and garden has gone through many changes and updates as the owner’s tastes have changed. The garden displays a large collection of palms, cycads and other exotic plants and has a number of winding pathways that lead through the plantings, garden features and several seating areas. However, there still remain a few small patches of lawn in the garden, a reminder of when growing up in Point Loma he earned spending money by mowing the neighborhood lawns.

One notable feature is an unusual concrete wall treatment. When the owner’s daughter was small, he would invite over other children in the neighborhood and to participate in adding tile, artwork and found objects to the wall.

Singen gave him one of the first king palms that he planted. This started a life-long interest in palms and he would visit the San Diego Zoo and palm gardens write down the names of the palms then search them out for his garden. Phil Bergman of Jungle Music introduced him to cycads. Many palm and garden societies have tour the garden over the years, most notably the International Palm Society. The owner has also helped with many other gardens in the Point Loma area and if you see a garden with lots of palms, it is likely he helped. In fact, as you look down the street you will notice that many of the homes are planted with unusual palms. Be sure and check out the palms in the garden 2 doors to the east which were planted with help of our homeowner.

Potter's Paradise

Though longtime residents of Point Loma, the owners of this classic 1928 Spanish-style house have only lived here a few years. They recently moved from the “wooded area” at the top of Point Loma and found this new location to be much warmer and sunnier. One of their first projects was replacing the front lawn with an interesting low water garden. They also own a home in Borrego Springs where they fell in love with desert plantings. With the help of professional Roya Ferrell owner of Lupes Gardening and Maintenance, who also works on their Borrego Springs garden, they have created a similar, yet lusher look here.One of their favorite plants is the large sculptural Mexican fence-post cactus (Pachycereus marginatus) in the front of the home. Contrasting fine-leafed grasses, agaves, aloes, other succulents and blooming shrubs and vines complete the garden.

One of the homeowners has been creating pottery for over 15 years. He’s developed a unique and creative style. Many of his artistic creative pots filled with succulents planted by his wife will be for sale the day of the tour!

Santa Barbara Style

In spite of its classic Santa Barbara style and grace, this house and garden is surprisingly only eight years old. The thick walls of the garden and house, plus the classic Spanish-style windows and multiple outdoor spaces, give the home an old world ambiance. The house and hardscape have been well designed to provide maximum garden privacy, optimal use of small spaces, and eclectic horticultural interest.

The street-side front drive displays more than 100 species of cacti and succulents. The garden entrance is through an impressive gate that leads to a tropical front courtyard, which features a koi pond designed to give the garden a tropical feel while minimizing water consumption and taking advantage of the special microclimate and soils of the Sunset Cliffs area of Ocean Beach. A small bridge leads through the lush plantings to a back patio arcade that is framed around a custom outdoor fireplace and spa and fronts on a large bird aviary. The south side of detached garage and house has been dedicated to a vegetable garden and 17 different varieties of bearing bananas. The garden includes built-in sand cast murals by well-known San Diego artist Charles R. Faust and others.

Noteworthy plants on the property include large cycads, such as sagos and dioons. A very old olive tree of unknown age is also in the front garden. The house and garden were created by Pacific Horizon Development and H.A. Casillas Landscape and Construction.

Sinjen Classic

When the owner of this home first moved in over 40 years ago, W. J. Sinjen was well known in San Diego for his natural looking tropical landscapes. Honored in 1998 Horticulturist of the Year by SDHS, Sinjen’s gardens featured layers of plants displayed with art and set off by curving pathways. The owner befriended Singen early on, but could not afford to pay him to design her garden. Determined to have Sinjen’s input nonetheless, the owner brought him to her property, where he agreed to draw lines in the sandy Point Loma soil indicating where pathways should be placed. The owner laid the paths herself, and Sinjen returned to suggest and place plants. Today, those plants have grown into a multi-layered garden marked by mature palms. The owner has added many of her favorite tropical and subtropical plantings to the gardens.

Recently, the owner completed a second story addition that takes advantage of the constant sea breeze and provides wonderful ocean view. This change allowed for the conversion of part of the driveway into additional garden space for entertaining. The owner organizes garden tours in the U.S. and around the world; many of the treasures brought back from her adventures are displayed throughout the garden. She and her husband also collect countless found and repurposed items. One notable example is the large collection of aluminum peacock panels, originally found on many screen doors in the 1950s and 1960s, which now adorn the back wall of the house.

Today, walkways weave in and out through the garden occasionally opening to a view or seating area to sit and relax. A small pond and waterfall complete the tropical fantasy.

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