Walking Tour: Sherman Library & Gardens
2.2 acres would hardly seem large enough to contain all the horticultural excitement found at the Sherman Library & Gardens in Orange County’s Corona del Mar. Along with the reference library, visitors will find the following: A tropical conservatory (complete with koi lagoon), a fern grotto, a rose garden, an herb garden, a Buddha-ready bo tree, colorful dahlia beds, and, the subject of this post, a cactus and succulent garden. Probably the size a suburban backyard, this garden area is not only stunning but it’s idea-packed as well. Let’s take a look inside …
Instantly we’re wowed by the diversity of the plantings, not to mention the size of some specimens. I see that my favorite non-plant garden material, rocks, plays a big part in the scheme here.
These succulent beds are controlled and display a lovely rhythm. I love the use of rocks with plant material here.
Tiny crevice gardens look especially sweet because of the contrast between rocky hardness and soft succulent rosettes.
Set vertically, stone shards contain succulents in tight semi-circles. The result: graphic stripes of like-colors and textures with seductive eye appeal.
Rich color combinations create a tapestry effect that’s irresistibly, singularly, succulent. Contained in terra-cotta pots, other succulents make like spectators in box seats.
The wow factor comes from the size of the succulents on display, as with this variegated beauty dwarfing Paul. I’ve got one in my garden that’s a third of the size of this one and it’s striking … but, at over six feet, this one’s positively explosive.
More super-tall examples … again, rock material both grounds and unites the plantings, their perfect complement.
I’ve got so many of these plants at the Rancho, but can’t help but wonder if mine will ever achieve the same stature. Could the nearby Pacific be the reason for their proportions?
Everywhere we looked there was something unexpected and wonderful … a feeling often triggered by seeing a familiar succulent in a color we’d never seen before, or massed in an overwhelmingly lush way like the suspended-and-hanging-to-the-floor example in hot pink … an enormous aloe tree with dozens of branches would be a suitable Sneetch perch.
Spikes and spines squiggle and pulse, jutting from rocky outcroppings in cool colors of gray and mauve, while green arrow-tipped arms rear up in the background.
Chubby barrel cactus throw their weight around in this grouping that includes more whiskered, gnarled and deeply groovy examples.
Being a very bright day we were able to enjoy the effects of shadow and light as it defined mass and texture. That visual rhythm again comes into play and it’s evident a great deal of planning and consideration went into this relatively small garden’s creation.
Such a gorgeous respite from traffic and the noise of people, I almost don’t want to leave this place … It’s not vast by any means, yet I don’t feel like I’ve really seen it all. A return trip is a must …
The namesake research library was closed when we visited so that’s another reason to return to Sherman Libray & Gardens. Additionally, there is the three-course prix fixe lunch at the charming Café Jardin on the grounds that needs addressing, as well as a tour of the gift shop. Altogether, a visit here would be a relaxing and rewarding way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
Sherman Library & Gardens offers classes and other events; click here for their website as well as other information.