Teamwork is a large part of the success of a Los Osos garden selected for display for the upcoming Morro Bay branch of American Association of University Women Garden Tour.
One member of the team focuses on plants and sculpture, while the other ensures that hardscapes are well designed and fully functional and that irrigation needs are well met.
Three rainwater reservoirs, holding an average 310 gallons, have filled many times during recent storms. These in turn are emptied into a dozen 33-gallon trash barrels so water can be distributed via gravity to fruit trees, cymbidium orchids and unthirsty ornamentals.
This is the practical and lovely garden of Eva von Franqué and Marlis Daerr.
The large property is bordered by a xylosma hedge along the driveway that leads to the front garden. A custom glass and metal sculpture by local artist Larry LeBrane (larrylebrane.com), is surrounded by potted Cape Reed (chondropetalum), a large jade shrub and tall square pots of horsetail (equisetum). A rootbeer-colored ceramic ball fountain bubbles into a dark square reservoir. It is sited in brick-colored gravel that matches the brick entrance.
Good humor greets visitors with this sign at the front door: “All unattended children will be given an expresso and a puppy.” Not far from the sign, low-growing camellia sasanqua in pink reminds one of little girls in fluffy pink skirts. A large oakleaf hydrangea produces a profusion of large white blooms in spring, followed by leaves that turn red and purple in the fall.
Tucked under the eaves of the home, a large Japanese aralia and potted sword fern dramatize a particularly lovely tall QuanYin statue near the walkway. She is the Asian goddess of compassion and mercy, an appropriate choice since the home owners both have backgrounds in medicine.
Two reddish Adirondack chairs are located in the front of the home in a private space facing west, the better to catch the day’s waning rays of sunlight. They complement the green fence that coordinates with the home.
The garden can be viewed from every angle inside the house, with a terraced arbor-covered side yard brimming with cymbidiums, hellebores, fuchsias, and hanging succulents. A tiered Air Vol Block retaining wall built by Daerr highlights von Franqué’s efforts. Also along that side of the garden a large peaceful statue of Buddha sits on a tree stump and appears to float in a sea of billowy Mexican feathergrass. Wisteria clambers up the fence and sword ferns hide one of the large water tanks.
Ceramic wall plaques created by von Franqué brighten the fence along the shady garden and whimsical creatures selected by Daerr add a spirit of fun.
A pair of potted Leucodendron “Jester” grabs attention along the walkway leading to the gazebo, where afternoon refreshments are enjoyed in front of the chiminea fireplace. A pair of wooden box planters contain herbs. Behind the gazebo is a hot tub, but more important is the “Treehouse Cafe,” where grandchildren and now great-grandchildren help keep grandma busy by offering her menu suggestions and serving up mud tea cakes and sandy-wiches.
Succulents ring a two-tiered fountain that invites a second look.
A can’t-miss focal point to the back garden is a second custom glass sculpture, also by LeBrane. This blazing red sculpture brings a “wow” factor to this area. Tall clumping bamboos replaced five diseased pines.
Protection from the wind helps ensure that citrus trees and stone fruit get enough warmth to thrive despite ocean breezes in the large side yard. A dwarf Meyer lemon tree, barely three feet tall, nearly explodes with its bounty. A pair of rotating composters ensure a steady supply of “black gold” to enrich the garden soil.
Classical music frequently fills the garden with sound. Von Franqué and Daerr support local and traveling musicians by hosting house concerts. Does classical music make plants grow better? See for yourself during the April 24 garden tour.
▪ One inch of rain off an average-size roof saves more than 1,000 gallons for future needs.
▪ Local artists enhance gardens with their creations.
▪ Prized succulents may need to be moved to dry, sheltered areas during this heavy rain season.
▪ Arbors can provide structure and shade — and a spot to hang plants.
▪ Local supplier Air Vol Block Inc. offers a variety of design choices for walks and retaining walls.
Marlis Daerr and Eva von Franque
Morro Bay Garden Tour
This garden is one of five that will be on a self-guided garden tour from noon to 5 p.m. April 24 sponsored by the Morro Bay American Association of University Women.
Tickets are $10 each. The tour raises scholarship money for local students.