For years, Leslie and Kim Eady maintained two hotels, one near their home in Bend, Ore., the other in California. They simplified their lives after moving to Cayucos in 1998, selling both hotels and buying the Cambria Shores Inn. Now they can oversee hotel operations by taking the short trip to Moonstone Beach Drive in Cambria.
The Eadys’ hillside house is not large, but they’ve created an ample outdoor living room with ocean view by doubling the size of the original deck. Furnished with tables for dining and comfortable seating for lounging, it’s an ideal setting for entertaining.
Container plants along the edge of the deck provide some screening from the street below. Leslie’s collection of art objects there range from an old statue of St. Francis to a hand-carved driftwood piece created by an artist who sold it from the back of his pickup.
Before the 10-foot deck extension was begun, two bougainvillea vines that grew up the original deck railing were carefully detached and laid flat on the ground. Now, with new supports, they have just reached the new deck railings.
Three years ago, the Eadys decided to renovate the grounds at Cambria Shores Inn. Leslie’s son, Nicholas Wilkinson, had just established Grow, the Nursery at Moonstone Gardens, specializing in succulents, and this was his first major project. It gave Nick an opportunity to demonstrate how well-suited succulent plants are to a seaside environment, and to display his skill in planting design.
Just over a year ago, Leslie and Kim asked Nick to re-landscape their home garden. Many overgrown trees and shrubs already had been removed for the deck expansion. Everything that remained in the streetside strips of their corner lot was removed for a new garden.
Twenty-two cubic yards of new soil was formed into dunelike mounds. In some of the low spaces between dunes, Nick hand-laid smooth stones, somewhat like dry stream beds. Those stones, as well as some petrified wood and several boulders that required a crane for placement, came from Sanford Stone in Paso Robles.
Leslie selected boulders that are meaningful for her. Two came from Porterville, where she had lived as a child; she liked the turquoise color of some rocks from Montana; one rock appears to be smiling; and a piece of petrified wood looks like a carved image of the Virgin Mary when the light is right.
Once the boulders were placed and the soil settled, succulents were planted and mulched with gravel. They have thrived so well it’s hard to believe that most were planted from 4-inch and gallon pots; very few came in larger containers.
In addition to gardening, Leslie enjoys spending time with her first grandchild, Nick’s son. Cruz’s fascination with the plants may indicate a third generation succulent grower in the making. The toddler already knows one important fact about some succulents. He simply points at cacti and says “no touch!”
Sharon Crawford is a freelance writer who lives in Los Osos.