Must-see garden tours in the Los Angeles area
From the Los Angeles Daily News, by Sandra Barrera, March 12, 2015:
Rethinking your landscape?
Whether the plan is to replace a thirsty lawn with an English cottage-style garden using California native plants or to introduce water features, chances are there’s a stop on a tour in Southern California to inspire that design — whatever your budget.
“This year we’re trying to create clusters in some of the areas where people are now planting new native gardens,” says Kitty Connolly, executive director of the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers and Native Plants, which puts on the 12th Annual Theodore Payne Native Plant Garden Tour on March 21 and 22. “I really wanted people in the San Fernando Valley and in the South Bay to be able to see gardens in their own neighborhoods with similar soil and climate. The best way to find out what plants are going to do well in your native garden is to see what’s doing well in your neighbor’s yard.”
The region-wide self-guided driving tour shines a spotlight on 47 homes with landscapes that range from modernist to traditional, big to small, do-it-yourself to designed by professionals, established to newly planted. They are also categorized by features such as butterfly garden, clay soil and slope to direct people to types of gardens they want to see.
Ultimately, the goal of the tour is to encourage more native gardens by showcasing the variety, beauty and cost-saving benefits of these plants and trees that require no soil amendment or fertilizer and use one-seventh of the water of a conventional garden or lawn. Native gardens also provide habitat for local wildlife — beneficial insects, pollinators, birds, lizards, native squirrels — and, in turn, manage pests.
“They make your garden a lot more lively because you have this other layer of life that the plants afford,” Connolly says. “Even migratory birds passing through will stop in your yard and eat. It’s really a bonus because you get all this without having to put out bird feeders.”
Encouraging sustainability in a variety of ways is the focus of the free 7th Annual Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase on April 25.
The Earth Day walking tour organized by the Mar Vista Community Council Green Committee features 55 gardens. (To help people plot out the day, a map to all the gardens is available at http://marvistagreengardenshowcase.blogspot.com.)
“We’re focusing on all the different possible elements of sustainability,” says Christy Wilhelmi, a tour curator and founder of the gardening resource Gardenerd. “It’s an educational opportunity, not just a design show. I think other garden tours are mostly about the pretty and this is so much more than that.”
Some offer the best of both worlds.
Landscape design is just a component of “Bellissimo! Altadena Guild’s Home and Garden Tour,” now in its 64th year, that takes place May 3 at four properties in the original Sphinx Ranch of northeastern Altadena. Sales from the walking tour benefit the Huntington Medical Research Institutes, Huntington Hospital’s Constance G. Zahorik Appearance Center for breast cancer survivors and the Altadena Guild Community Service Scholarship given to a deserving employee of the hospital.
The event draws tour-goers from as far away as Long Beach to enjoy tea and scones in the Tea Garden, live entertainment, shopping at the Plein Air Market and The Bakery, classic cars on exhibit and drinks from the Altadini Bar, not to mention a stroll through stunning architecture and gardens. Among the highlights is a large-scale garden that co-chair Julie Manning likens to a “mini arboretum.”
“This woman has done marvelous things to her garden,” Manning says. “She has a formal garden, a Japanese garden, a vineyard area and what she calls the Under the Sea Garden, which features a variety of succulents and things that look like they belong in the ocean. It’s a spectacular garden.”
Koi ponds, tiled fountains and orchids can be found in the other gardens serving to inspire.
And that’s the draw.
“These are not homes done by designers,” says Joan Brannin, who handles publicity for the tour. “These were done by ordinary people.”