We went on the Gate and Garden Walking Tour of North Laguna this Friday. I have to say the beautiful homes were as much of a draw as the gardens. It’s worth the $35 just to have the opportunity to walk behind some of the front gates and snoop around these places. 

Because I was with two of my more independent-minded friends, we did the tour backwards. (We didn’t want to wait for the shuttle, and the last homes on the tour were the closest.) Anyway, this first home–billed as “Tarzan’s Jungle” on Monterey Drive–blew our minds and I don’t think we ever quite got past that. Everything else seemed a bit staid and predictable after this tropical refuge. Above is an uninhabitable tree house high up in the trees, surrounded by massive staghorns and blooming epiphyllums. 

 This lush corner property was packed with exotic plants. This one was supposedly super rare. The garden tour sponsors write the names of plants on stones. “Zamia,” if that means anything to you, let us know! (The knowledgeable garden blogger Hoover Boo from a Piece of Eden said this is one of the cycads, like the Sago palms. Gracias Ms. Boo!)

 A lot of the homes, like this one, had their outdoor patio table set up as though we visitors were about to sit down to eat dinner. All part of that great outdoor ambiance.
The owners had a plaque by the front door that read, “Nebadon,” and although I heard the owner explaining the meaning, something about spirituality, I’m still not sure what it means. It doesn’t really matter. The place didn’t need explaining. It was just a great place to wander around. Everywhere you looked, another exotic plant and surprise.
Then we walked next door to this funkadelic home on Locust Street, and this was the enticing front gate. These two homeowners are longtime pals, as evidenced by their lack of fencing between their properties (something rarely seen around these parts)!  Lots of vintage longboards, found-art sculpture, tropical plants in both–if only the entire tour had been this playful and original!

This was the sideyard. A Zen garden? The owner is a sculpture artist named Pat Sparkuhl, who shows work at the local Festival of the Arts each year. These tall columns are made of shoe heels. 
Close-up of the heels.

A peek inside Sparkuhl’s home. 

Close-up of ceiling. See what I mean about enjoying the homes as much as the gardens?

Another found object sculpture on the other side yard. I love this stuff!

This is the arbor as you leave their front yard. 

This is what it looks like walking along the wide, canopied streets in North Laguna. Heavenly!

The third home we visited was exquisite, some charmer from the ’30s or ’40s, and very tidy and perfectly maintained.

 You can get an idea, however, of how buttoned up the garden was in comparison to those first two guys. 

We loved this fountain made of oyster shells and filled with clear glass floats that looked like bubbles.
This  ”two-story Cotswold-influenced house built in 1924,” was up on High Drive (the neighborhood is built on a gradual incline). This house was a “point of interest,” meaning you just get to gaze at it from behind the front gate. Kind of a tease, but we loved it! 

Kind of a crummy photo, but wanted you too see the piled stone turret with tiled pigeonholes.

This front yard looked inviting and water-friendly to me, but I didn’t spend a ton of time here.  

I think I love these types of gardens the best since they make me feel like I could be on a hike somewhere.

This house on Myrtle, owned by an environmental designer, had it all, including a separate office and lovely “spool” out back–a tasteful spa/pool combo. According to the garden tour literature, it has undergone many transformations. I’m not sure what style it is now, but full of gorgeous plants and creative use of space. 

There were two of these lovely trees–acacia baileyana “Purpurea”–against the back of the house. (Denise from A Growing Obsession blog helped me id this tree. If you like garden tours, check out her recent post of the amazing home and garden tour in Venice, CA. )

The owners used the “rubble” style brickwork inspired by Greene and Greene of Pasadena. We loved this outdoor shower, with the grape vines allowed to invade from the neighbors.
A corner of the shower. 
How about that little terracotta pot as the soap holder, and that nautical mirror?
This is some of the loveliness they had going on out front–and it worked!
A bit closer to the roses.
On to another house back up on High Drive.
 They had fabulous succulents and tropical plants along the front side yard. 

All their plantings were set off so nicely by the simple concrete block wall. 

I couldn’t resist these close-ups of the unusual succulents. 

They had this sculpture, a white Sprite designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, 
by a water feature and fire pit on a little patio. 

This hidden mansion on Hawthorne Drive is rumored to have hosted Bette Davis on several occasions. That said, sorry, I didn’t snap any photos of the house. Just imagine a 1924 Craftsman that has been impeccably renovated with a large rolling lawn, and a towering Silver Oak, several Orchid trees and different types of Guava trees in front. I did take a photo of this little shrub (name on the tip of my tongue. Really!), which one of my friends pointed out had just been planted. Can you blame them for sprucing up the place?

Okay, so I have only been on a couple of these garden tours, which are dominated by women who lunch and retirees. There also is a compulsion among attendees to sport hats. (As well as other “garden party” attire.) Yes, Little Bo Peep was for real!

As you can see, we ended with one of the more typical north Laguna front yards–a wild English garden complete with white picket fence on Hawthorne Drive, which is the result of a collaboration between the owners and a landscape designed/architect named Chuck Stopherd of Hidden Garden in Hermosa Beach.  

These climbing roses are called Joseph’s Coat.  The large plumeria in the background is in the neighbor’s yard and was another “point of interest” on the tour. 

This was the last home (or first, if you followed the directions), a 1930 Craftsman style builder bungalow, which was refreshingly simple and full of natives and succulents. A great way to the end the tour! 
One of the best things about the tour-besides the amazing variety of gardens and homes–was the little pamphlet published by the sponsors, the Laguna Beach Garden Club. It was packed with colorful details and local lore about the 10 homes and gardens, and where I gathered most of my background info for this posting. Thanks Laguna Beach Garden Club!!!
(Another shot of the tree house. Hoover Boo called out the official name of those staghorn ferns: platyceriums.) 

13 Responses to Laguna Beach Garden Tour Highlights

  1. Desert Dweller says:

    WOW! I liked that entire tour. "Women who lunch and retirees" – says it all for my area, too, except they are not into water thrifty gardens and nice design – gravel or NE lawns.

  2. jill says:

    It sure does make me want a north Laguna tree yard – and neighbors without fences! Nice photo tour, and you didn't even charge $35 to view it.

  3. Cat says:

    So many garden tours, so little time…thank goodness for blog friends! The path in the first photo is cool…I would love to incorporate something like that in my garden some day…

  4. Denise says:

    Looks like a perfectly fine garden tour! I think your mystery tree/shrub might be Acacia baileyana 'Purpurea.'

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  6. Rebecca Sweet says:

    Oh. My. Gosh. These are gorgeous! And looking at the photos are making me miss Laguna Beach more than EVER! Thanks for sharing so many wonderful photos (I love the terra cotta pot in the shower!). These are just awesome!

  7. redgardenclogs says:

    Holy moses! What incredible photos! Love the plants, the funky sculptures and collections, Little Bo Peep, and that outdoor shower is AMAZING!

    How fun it must have been to check all those places out. Looks like you had a great day for it too. Thanks for sharing this tour!

  8. Mark and Gaz says:

    Superb properties Janine, both gardens and houses! I LOVE that outdoor shower, how great to use on a warm summer's day. Not too practical here though as summer can be on the cool side and only probably use it for two months a year. Still very nice, love the idea and rather sensual….

  9. Hoover Boo says:

    Great virtual tour–thank you so much. Zamia is one of the cycads (like Sago palms).

    The faux treehouse awash in platyceriums is amazing.

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    :-( clown face
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