Home & Garden

Los Osos homeowner turned her garden into a playful space for ‘all kinds of critters’

Susie Hubbard’s garden in Los Osos an oasis in a compact space

Los Osos, California, homeowner Susie Hubbard turned her front and back yards into gardens with easy-care, low-water plants, flowers and fruit trees surrounding outdoor living areas.
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Los Osos, California, homeowner Susie Hubbard turned her front and back yards into gardens with easy-care, low-water plants, flowers and fruit trees surrounding outdoor living areas.

David and Susie Hubbard loved the seasons while living in Tehachapi.

But they welcomed the change to milder weather when they bought a vacation home in Baywood Park in 2009.

When the Hubbards moved into the house full-time in 2013, Susie had to leave behind her prize-winning rose garden. She received a grand prize award for residential landscape design from the All-American Rose Selection and was featured in a national magazine.

Susie, a retired teacher, looked forward to a clean palette to design a new garden in Los Osos.

Originally, there were just two cedar trees and mulch in the front of the home. The trees were removed and her husband built brick patios and pathways leading from the front garden to the back.

The back of the property features a fenced north-facing slope with minimal sun, several oak trees, occasional frosts, humidity and sandy soil lacking nutrients and water-holding ability.

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A chair is repurposed as a planter in Susie Hubbard’s Los Osos garden, which was featured on the Morro Bay AAUW garden tour in 2017. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

David died a few years ago, and as a tribute to her husband, Susie has placed vases in a pair of his work boots, located at the front door. She picks flowers from her garden to fill the boots to welcome visitors.

Susie wanted to attract “all kinds of critters” with diverse habitats.

Suet, birdseed and other animal treats are placed throughout the garden. Flowers are planted for bees, hummingbirds and other pollinators. Small water dishes quench butterflies’ thirst and colorful birdhouses are everywhere waiting for new residents.

In addition, Susie wanted her garden to be a playful space with garden art, easy-care, low-water plants and fun at every turn. The whimsical garden is driven by a plant-based design rather than a style.

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Creative planters are scattered throughout Susie Hubbard’s Los Osos garden, which was featured on the Morro Bay AAUW garden tour in 2017. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

She has filled every inch with plants that feature her favorite colors — hot pink, orange, yellow and purple.

“The more plants you have, the less space for weeds to grow,” she said.

Geranium maderense, fuchsias, snapdragons and lavender are some of her favorite plants, as well as succulents such as echeverias, aloes, and aleoniums.

In the back, she has a small English cottage-style garden, which is as close to a formal garden as you will find in this joyful space.

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Susie Hubbard’s Los Osos garden was featured on the Morro Bay AAUW garden tour in 2017. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

The edible landscape includes a few herbs and plum, avocado, pineapple guava, lemon and fig trees. Due to the lack of sun, Susie cannot grow her prize-winning roses but she has a few potted miniature roses in her front patio.

Along the walkway from the front yard to the back is a wood fence covered with succulents, shells, signs and art, all colorful and charming. Many of her finds are from garage sales and thrift stores.

It works for Susie because she stays within her color palette and whimsical design.

Potted succulents can be found along the driveway, side of the house and backyard. Susie has always been a flower gardener and loves using succulents because so many are basically flower shaped.

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Gnome gardens change the scale of plantings. Susie Hubbard’s Los Osos garden was featured on the Morro Bay AAUW garden tour in 2017. 10-10-2018 David Middlecamp David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Hidden among the pots are miniature gardens she and her grandchildren have created. They can be found in old wheel barrels, wagons and birdbaths.

Two of my favorites are a cottage scene with a living succulent roof and a camp scene featuring birdhouses shaped like campers.

Other garden art consists of rusted metal cattail plants with colorful tops, bird cages, abalone shells with sea glass and a metal scarecrow. As you wander through the landscape, every new discovery makes you smile.

Susie is a lifelong gardener and said gardening is a spiritual experience for her. She once saw a church marquee that said “Play is the highest form of research,” and, coming from an educational career, it is obvious she has been able to incorporate this philosophy in her life.

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Susie Hubbard’s Los Osos garden was featured on the Morro Bay AAUW garden tour in 2017. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Tips from the gardener

Don’t do yardwork — garden. Embrace the joy of gardening, and have fun!

Enjoy the quiet. Have a cup of coffee or a glass of wine in your garden.

Amend your soil. It provides nutrients for your plants and helps to retain moisture.

Embrace what you are given. Work within the planting zone, including sun, shade and climate.

Bring wildlife into your garden. Animals not only provide interest for you, but also pollinate your plants.

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