2014 Morro Bay AAUW garden tour offers seaside texture, color and whimsy

This year’s annual Morro Bay garden tour includes some gems full of bright corners and colorful plantings

Special to The TribuneApril 2, 2014 

Visitors to the annual garden tour sponsored by the Morro Bay American Association of University Women later this month are in for some real eye candy.

Here’s a look at three of the garden jewels:

Seaside garden in Cayucos

The seaside Cayucos garden of Reg Whibley and his wife, Judy Straw, has evolved over the years. This joyful garden has such variety of color, texture and materials, you have to slow down to take it all in. Because salt air is so hard on plants, most are succulents and coastal-loving Mediterraneans.

“Reg designed the garden, the patio and the tile,” Straw said. It’s a combination of clever engineering and artistic endeavor.

This unbelievable corner of Cayucos incorporates driftwood as a comfy bench, ornate rocks for a fireplace, bricks, flagstones, shells, beach rocks, chunks of glass, and Italian mosaic ... what imagination! Nothing beneath the steps is linear, it all curves and rolls like the waves nearby.

The patio curves into specimen size aloes and agaves that anchor the hillside plantings as pink echeverias, yellow aeoniums, green euphorbias, pink kalanchoe and blue senecio all vie for their place in the sun, scrambling over rocks and creating mosaics of color everywhere you look.

Color is also king in a sunny side yard just off the kitchen where turquoise lounge chairs nestle next to blue pots filled with bright purple cineraria. In this area small pieces of driftwood work together to form a large hanging planter. There’s such a variety of plants in this garden that something is in bloom all the time.

Tiny orange epidendrum orchids spring out of a rock wall planter alongside birds of paradise the same color to delight and enchant passers-by on the coastal access trail that borders their home. Straw, thoughtful, has a bowl of water set out for thirsty pups tired after their run on the beach.

Nick Wilkinson of Grow in Cambria selected and organized plant placement. Gardens by Gabriel did the installation of this amazing succulent showstopper.

Monarch magic in Los Osos

Many of the residents of Monarch Grove in Los Osos actually are Monarch butterflies. One fluttered in to greet us when we stepped onto Pat Hagan’s terrace. It’s almost as though the butterfly inspired Pat’s color palate of orange and blue.

Bright blue pride of Madera (variegated echium) contrasts with daisylike orange calendula in cobalt blue pots resting on the patio wall. Large anchoring shrubs on the patio include lavender blooming sweet pea shrub (polygala), yellow blooming euryops daisy trees skirted by the burgundy foliage of lorapetalum, which is sometimes called fringe flower.

Multicolored Talavera pots filled with succulents help unite the color scheme of orange and blue. Adirondack chairs in dark blue surround the artistic fire pit dappled with blue glass around the rim and all look out to the bay beyond. Cobalt is also the color of a tall urn fountain bubbling gently at the entry to the house near the orange blooming clivia.

The front garden slopes down from the patio wall in a bright tumble of yellow Island Bush Poppy, magenta calandrinia, purple sea lavender, large aloes and agaves. Turtle stepping stones march toward the driveway beneath a Chinese elm.

Clever use of design elements in the narrow back yard make it appear much more expansive than it really is. Neatly placed cobalt planters filled with red geraniums lead the eye all the way to a lemon tree adorned with blue Japanese fishing floats. A giant pink camellia reigns over a lush stand of foxtail fern.

In the space of two years Hagan, a retired history teacher, has worked tirelessly to create her own personal paradise. Neighbors are so pleased with her efforts that she has been thanked by many in the neighborhood.

Fun finds make yard sail in Morro Bay

People looking for fun will get a kick out of Bob and Diane Cogdal’s Morro Bay retreat. The beach cottage, although tiny, is what many people may dream of. When visitors and family arrive with small children and dogs, this delightful garden welcomes them. Yard sale finds are planted, transformed, and tucked into every corner of the property. Everywhere you turn the sense of humor and joy of a great find can be seen. Ideas for all those things you’ve saved and thought about using some day are brought to life and will inspire you.

A bedspring beauty sprouts strategically placed succulents. A former vanity table, drawers overflowing with plants, homemade firepit, a slab of tree for a table, old surfboards, white picket fence and cheery yellow home with turquoise trim welcomes. The turquoise antique patio set on the front deck looks toward the sea and invites neighbors to stop and visit.


Today’s gardens are three of five that will be on a self-guided tour from noon to 5 p.m. April 27 sponsored by the Morro Bay Branch American Association of University Women.

Tickets are $10 each and available at all Farm Supply locations, Volumes of Pleasure Bookshoppe and Sage Ecological Landscapes & Nursery in Los Osos and Coalesce Bookstore in Morro Bay. Morro Bay AAUW members are also selling tickets. For information call 235-5779.

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