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Scenes from Their Garden

April 13, 2010

Sunday splendid

After hearing about both the historic house, and gardens, kept by Bill & Hal, we were invited over Sunday. And, I must say both lived up to their advance billing. The house, an adobe out of Riverside’s past, has become a charming mix of styles and additions through the years. Filled with antiques collected by both men, it was delightful visiting with them and their irrepressible little dog; sharing freshly squeezed juice from some of the original Riverside oranges trees in the surrounding groves, and a sizable wedge of tiramisu. Delicious. But, I’m getting ahead of myself — before this we were treated to a guided tour of the surrounding acre-plus grounds and gardens. And as you’ll see, it was not the usual Riverside garden we enjoyed …

Grand old fig tree

There are several distinct areas that surround the house on the site and this one features an enormous fig tree planted by the homeowners more than 30-plus years ago. Its distinctive shape is the result of judicious pruning over the years. Box hedges surround this, and other areas, creating paths and beds for diverse plantings.

Salvaged past

A gazebo comprised of architectural salvage: the arches hail from San Francisco and the other timbers from a local Riverside church that suffered a fire and was subsequently demolished. Note the huge, gorgeous aloe trees to the left of the fanciful structure. Barely visible at the end of the archway is a rusted and broken metal pillar, sitting on a granite stand from the same Riverside church.

A Riverside vista

A view that says Riverside, with palms swaying overhead. At the end of the brick path is a small pool with a concrete raincross leaning against its edge. The mix of flowers and other plantings spilling onto the walkway provides a lovely counterpoint to the well-trimmed hedges.

The urn at the end

A path looking the other direction, and behind the fig tree, features a classic urn. The narrowness and length of the brick path invites contemplation of the shapely vessel at the end of it.

Wild path

Not all the garden paths are straight and narrow. Some, like this one, are wilder, and meander in a pleasing way through masses of varied plantings. There’s so much to see while following this shady path, and plants, trees and shrubs in a wide range of colors and foliage types invite closer inspection. Our guides, willing to share names and origins of the many specimens, impress us immensely with their vast knowledge … now, if only we could remember it all.

Wisteria twinings

The porte cochere is shaded in stunning fashion by old wisteria vines. Over time they’ve entwined themselves muscularly around pillars created from massive beams from the same burned church that provided the wood for most of the gazebo. Covered with plaster, the beams now support a truly awesome display of this beautiful vine. Sadly, we’ve missed the purple peak of the blooming season by just a week or two.

Pool of serenity

In the pool, the blackened and irregular plaster below the water’s surface is almost irresistibly inviting. At the far end, orchids and other plants in containers stand out against a backdrop of creeping fig and tall cypresses. The glassy surface of the water, and the surrounding plantings, make for a superbly serene setting.

Low-water, poolside

On the pool’s spa end, a display of distinctive succulents in varied containers lend color and interest. A giant clam shell holds colorful mineral specimens rather than pearls. The reaching pink tendrils belonging to a pudgy succulent atop an urn, almost obscure an amazing smelting pot that holds a cycad. One of two in this area, the pot has an unmatchable surface character and color.

Trimmed outside the box

In a lowered area beneath a raised conservatory-type porch, box hedges are trimmed in classic ornate fashion. The higher vantage point allows the curvy design to be viewed and enjoyed from above. More cycads add height between the hedges in this area that includes a lovely fountain.

Small piece of history

A small outbuilding retains its period looks and sits serenely at the end of a path — looking, for all the world, like home. That homey feeling is further enhanced by the plantings at either side of the brick path leading up to it. Overhead, flowering trees in pink and yellow complete the almost storybook-perfect tableau.

Glory on high

Rosa altissimo, a beyond-scarlet climbing rose, demands a closer look in the bed leading up to the small outbuilding. Other flowering shrubs in a creamy yellow, and soft blue and purple, play colorful backup to the dramatic show on high.

Dreamy colored rose

More roses, now in colors out of a dream, and all at once! Yellow becomes apricot — then also orange, fuchsia, and magenta — on these climbers, and they’re almost too spectacular to have facing out on busy Victoria Avenue and the pedestrian walkway alongside it. If they were mine, I’m not sure I’d share them so readily. I’d keep them all to myself. Happily Bill and Hal are willing to share: they provide this variety to nurseries.

Color, top to bottom

Back alongside the wild rock-lined path, a gnarled tree sports deep red heart-shaped leaves. It also has clusters of intensely pinky-red buds growing directly out of it’s rough-barked trunk. I’ve never seen anything quite like this tree, or for that matter, a garden this beautiful, created by two people. There are other equally gorgeous areas here, but I failed to capture them all, probably because I was simply too taken by what I was seeing. Bill and Hal’s obvious devotion to art, home, garden, nature, pets — and each other — is fully on display here, and I feel fortunate that they were willing to share this special place with us.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. April 13, 2010 10:18 am

    How gorgeous! Love that full and really huge rose bush with all of it’s colors!!! Awesome!

  2. mattisalomaki permalink
    April 13, 2010 2:15 pm

    Okay, the pool sold me…where do I sign up to be the pool caretaker. This place is gorgeous. Matti

    • reubix1 permalink*
      April 13, 2010 5:16 pm

      Believe me, I don’t usually experience pool desire but this one is just so inviting…

  3. April 13, 2010 5:07 pm

    Wow! In the last photo, the plant that appears to be a Euphorbia, on the left…do you know it’s name by chance?

    • reubix1 permalink*
      April 13, 2010 5:15 pm

      Yes, it’s a euphorbia called Euphorbia Wulfenii… and I love how tall the specimens are in this garden. The lime green color is one of my faves in a garden…

  4. Elizabeth Han permalink
    April 19, 2010 5:28 am

    That lime green euphorbia is gorgeous. Wow, I was amazed by the photos of their house and garden. Thanks for posting!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      April 20, 2010 1:27 am

      The pictures really barely do B&H’s garden justice: it’s really unbelievably beautiful…

  5. Sheeba permalink
    April 20, 2010 6:43 pm

    Wow!! clearly speechless…..all I can say is thank you for sharing…simply spectacular..I truly want to jump into that pool…it seems so serene!!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      April 20, 2010 9:27 pm

      It’s definitely a pool that makes you feel like floating off and away…

  6. Bonnie Reynolds permalink
    April 22, 2010 2:00 am

    i tagged along with bruce to a master gardener event there; quite spectacular indeed. very nice photos, as usual.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      April 22, 2010 3:31 am

      Thanks, re: the photos… but they don’t do the place justice…


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