The Cambria Garden Tour is back! Taking a one-year hiatus leaves avid gardeners anxiously anticipating this upcoming event. This year, I assisted the tour’s selection committee in identifying seven gardens that represent Cambria’s finest. Without giving away too many secrets, here are the backyard paradises offered on the 2012 garden tour:
Need ideas for tough plants that can thrive in salt and wind? Participants will visit the garden of Mark and Chris Landgreen on the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The landscape provides a foreground for the vast water view. Low-growing, drought tolerant plants like ceanothus and rockrose provide color. A carpet of dymondia surrounds the rock pavers. There’s a modified Zen garden and an enclosed area for potting and growing grapes, vegetables, and herbs. The seating area and pizza oven by the front door provide a sheltered area to “sit a spell.” An added treat: local classic cars will be on view on the cul-de-sac out front.
Around the corner you’ll visit an enchanting small garden. Mike and Patty Griffin have taken a tiny backyard, with sweeping hillside views of the Fiscalini Ranch, and made it a place to relax and pursue a passion for orchids. The greenhouse provides a retreat where Mike nurtures and collects exotic flowers. Patty’s clay sculptures and pottery adorn the property.
Above the fog, beyond the wind, and shaded by old oaks, you’ll meander through a garden that’s evolved over a generation. Wayne and Madie Gracey built their home 30 years ago and began transforming the garden into an oasis for family and friends. Madie’s criterion “to hear the sound of water from any part of the garden,” was achieved. There’s a playhouse for grandchildren, a pond, roses, and pathways of brick and stone. Art objects and staghorn ferns decorate corners and fences, and benches provide “places to ponder”.
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Erwin and Betty Ohannesian have created a hillside retreat using native and Mediterranean plants that thrive in poor soil. Rhododendrons are shaded by native Toyon. You’ll find a dry creekbed, bridge and sitting area with an overhead structure. Fruit trees and small vegetable beds provide produce for the kitchen. Selecting plants at the Cambria Nursery is Erwin’s favorite pastime. He’s promised to label as many plants as possible to aid in the education of tour participants.
I met Judy and Raimund Brendel over dinner. The conversation turned to gardens and everyone agreed that the Brendel’s was beautiful. From the Japanese inspired front gate, complete with Japanese maples, to the dry creekbed and bridge, this garden is not to be missed. The guesthouse is “one of a kind,” and the vintage trailer that serves as an art studio is a treasure. Cross the dry creek and see lesser-known Australian plants that tolerate summer drought.
Hold on to your garden hat! This garden may blow it right off. John and Lynn Carter, bicoastal residents of Cambria, have held nothing back in creating a picturesque garden in a picturesque setting. The Cambria Pines Road estate grounds have been recently redone with green lawn (rare in Cambria), charming greenhouse, water features, bridges, and creek bed. The rock-walled vegetable garden makes “growing your own” a beautiful experience.
Carol Lynch had a vision of a shaded hillside garden behind her house. Created on six lots, the “secret garden” cannot be seen from the street. Climb the stairs and you’ll find a spacious outdoor living space complete with seating areas, fireplace and stained glass windows. A large custom carved Buddha presides over the outdoor space and Mediterranean and semitropical plants complete the surroundings.
CAMBRIA GARDEN TOUR
The Cambria Garden Tour begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 19, with a continental breakfast and registration at the Cambria Nursery & Florist, 2801 Eton Road. You’ll be given a map of the seven unique gardens to tour at your leisure. Enjoy the gourmet offerings, art displays and live music at each location. At 2 p.m., you’ll return to the nursery for wine tasting and dessert and participate in the Grand Raffle Drawing. All proceeds benefit the Cambria Education Foundation and New Dawn Montessori. Tickets are $35 in advance, $40 at the door. For information and tickets go to www.CambriaGardenTour.com or call the ticket hotline at 909-0052.