Home & Garden

Paradise found in Don and Sharon Erbstoesser's garden in SLO

An elevated view of the fairway from a favorite bench.
An elevated view of the fairway from a favorite bench. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Golfers and walkers hiking the perimeter of San Luis Obispo Country Club often stop to compliment Sharon and Don Erbstoesser as they walk past the colorful garden bordering the golf course.

Don Erbstoesser gives his wife, Sharon, full credit for it. “The result is happiness, and that’s great. It’s something that makes you feel good.” A gingko forest tucked into an elevated corner of the garden hugs a comfortable rustic log bench that encourages the gardener to stop, rest and look out over the fairway. It was a gift from sons Tom, Dave and Tim Erbstoesser.

Large sago palms line the path and are very complementary to the gingkos. Both are prehistoric plants. Garden designer Robert Mora helped with details.

Tall purple verbena bonariensis with its flattopped clusters has freely volunteered both inside and outside the fence and makes a striking silhouette overlooking the golf green.

A Paradise rose in shades of pink, ‘Sunset Gold’ coleonema foliage, and deep blue ‘Storm Cloud’ agapanthus, a variety that bloom more profusely than most, bring lots of color to this part of the garden. Green spikes of foxtail fern (Asparagus meyerii) are also at home here.

The gingkos change from green to gold each autumn before the leaves fall, putting on a spectacular seasonal show.

Sharon likes unusual plants so finding eucomis species Pineapple lily was not a surprise nor were the heuchera hybrids with their airy clusters of tiny white flowers and striking shades of purple- and caramel-colored foliage. Bunches of bright red-orange crocosmia shoot up like fireworks in late spring. Bulbs are easy to forget so when things like eucomis and crocosmia pop up, it’s a surprise.

Japanese maples are one of Sharon’s favorites, and they dapple the entire property in various shades and sizes. One makes a striking appearance against a pale green wall, while another separates the garden from a neighbor. Additional maples hold forth in the front yard.

A mature Arbutus “Marina” strawberry tree presides over orange and yellow native columbine volunteers, purple flowering spiderwort (Tradescantia), and a smaller Japanese maple near a partially enclosed outdoor dining area. Clusters of pink pompom chives run rampant in the garden near this area. Sharon generously offered all the chives we could carry.

Neatly trimmed undulating boxwood borders separate planting beds and paths, giving a more formal feel to some areas of the garden. An expanse of lawn feels like it stretches to the horizon because of the view of the golf course from the garden.

A spectacular ruffled ‘Sedona’ hybrid tea tree rose in shades of an Arizona sunset refuses to be ignored. An enormous white “Iceberg” floribunda rose covered in buds shows why it is a hardy and rewarding Central Coast favorite. Behind it a yellow and green variegated Schefflera arboricola (umbrella plant) clambers up a porch post.

Boulders from the family ranch in the Sierra enhance a planting bed with an oriental feel.

Around the corner a huge Mediterranean fan palm (Chamaerops humilis) in an oversize terra cotta pot stands guard at the entrance to the potting area on the north side of the house. A robust border of sword fern line the walk. A smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria) in the surprising shade of green, awaits placement.

In the front yard, parrot’s beak (Lotus bertholotti), with its bright orange and red beak-shaped flowers surround a border of sago palms. Two groupings of white birch trees center lawn areas that are split in half by a walkway lined with Paradise tree roses all the way to the entrance courtyard and front door. Showy purple “Iceberg” tree roses flank the home’s entrance.

Sharon and Don count their good fortune at having their three sons and families all working and living in San Luis Obispo. Paradise isn’t just the name of a rose.