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Walking Tour: Sherman Library & Gardens

September 19, 2011


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 …

Impactful diversity

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.

Succulent bedding

These succulent beds are controlled and display a lovely rhythm. I love the use of rocks with plant material here.

In the fold

Tiny crevice gardens look especially sweet because of the contrast between rocky hardness and soft succulent rosettes.

Circular logic

Set vertically, stone shards contain succulents in tight semi-circles. The result: graphic stripes of like-colors and textures with seductive eye appeal.

Ground level tapestry

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.

Big drama

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.

Big reach

More super-tall examples … again, rock material both grounds and unites the plantings, their perfect complement.

Strangely familiar

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?

Eye candy

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.

Spiny, spiky

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.

Prickly gathering

Chubby barrel cactus throw their weight around in this grouping that includes more whiskered, gnarled and deeply groovy examples.

Shadow and light

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.

Just beautiful

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 …

Dragon trees on PCH

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.

Click here for a recent post by Denise at A Growing Obsession blog. Her photography is especially lovely and offers a more intimate look at the succulents on display.

89 Comments leave one →
  1. September 19, 2011 10:33 pm

    Lovely tour thank you! That Furcraea is just insane (in a good way!)

    • reubix1 permalink*
      September 19, 2011 10:45 pm

      Isn’t it beyond gorgeous! I found mine looking less-than this morning, but I hope it rallies and grows up to be like this one

  2. September 20, 2011 1:06 am

    I have driven past here so many times…now I will have to make time for the stop! Thanks!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      September 20, 2011 2:52 am

      Stop, definitely; it’s really lovely!

  3. September 20, 2011 7:28 am

    incroyable !! magnifique !! superbe !! merci Reuben !

    • reubix1 permalink*
      September 20, 2011 12:05 pm

      Bonjour, Delphine … I loved the pictures of your garden — and, of you — yesterday after work!

  4. September 22, 2011 2:25 am

    This is on the agenda for next spring..My annual trip to Santa Barbara has morphed into SanDiego-OC-Palm Springs.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      September 22, 2011 3:05 am

      Excellent, I think you’ll really enjoy it … and sounds like a great itinerary!

  5. Matti permalink
    September 26, 2011 2:39 pm

    OM gosh, this place rocks. Love the specimens mixed in. Keep finding these magical location buddy!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      September 26, 2011 3:23 pm

      It’s really lovely, and a new fave!

  6. October 3, 2011 5:41 pm

    Succulents are typically so stark, but these are stunning — apparently, I’m just not planting them correctly!


    • reubix1 permalink*
      October 3, 2011 7:01 pm

      Sherman’s Gardens are especially well-planned and kept, truly gorgeous!

  7. October 3, 2011 5:42 pm

    Wow! Wow! Wow!. What a beautiful garden! The best I’ve seen of it’s type. Thanks for sharing it. Connie

    • reubix1 permalink*
      October 3, 2011 7:02 pm

      You’re welcome, Connie! Thanks for your comment

  8. October 3, 2011 5:45 pm

    This looks like a really cool place to visit. Your photos are amazing and make it so enticing! Thanks for sharing.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      October 3, 2011 7:02 pm

      It was fun, I can’t wait to return!

  9. October 3, 2011 5:58 pm

    Beautifully designed garden.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      October 3, 2011 7:03 pm

      One of the best, locally… Visit if you can!

  10. October 3, 2011 6:07 pm

    I love those plants. I worked at a garden center for a bit and I just loved looking at them 🙂

    • reubix1 permalink*
      October 3, 2011 7:03 pm

      They’re remarkably easy to care for, too!

  11. October 3, 2011 6:16 pm

    So glad you posted these pics and were freshly pressed so I could find them! I live in So Cal and having been wanting to replace my postage stamp-sized front lawn with succulents. This is great for inspiration. I’ll definitely make a trip to the Sherman Gardens to see it all in person.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      October 3, 2011 7:03 pm

      Definitely visit… it’s terrific!

  12. thebigbookofdating permalink
    October 3, 2011 6:21 pm

    Best post ever, by far one of my favourite plants!

  13. October 3, 2011 6:22 pm

    Well, that may very well be the most beautiful garden that I’ve ever seen! Thank you so much for sharing your photos!

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! 🙂

    • reubix1 permalink*
      October 3, 2011 7:04 pm

      I’m pretty excited about being FP’ed too!

  14. October 3, 2011 6:23 pm

    Never knew cacti could look so pretty!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      October 3, 2011 7:05 pm

      They’re my faves and Sherman’s does them beautifully!

  15. October 3, 2011 6:45 pm

    Wow, the gardens are beautiful and your photos are fantastic! Thanks for sharing and congrats on being freshly pressed!

  16. October 3, 2011 6:55 pm

    Gorgeous place!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      October 3, 2011 7:06 pm

      For being so small, it packs a true wallop of succulent beauty!

  17. October 3, 2011 6:58 pm

    What gorgeous photos! Thank you so much for sharing them with us. I’ve never been to that part of the world but have always wanted to. Next you should come here to England and photograph some of the gardens…I hear there are some nice ones. 😉


    • reubix1 permalink*
      October 3, 2011 7:07 pm

      I’d love to come to England… once I get over my fear of flying! ; )

  18. October 3, 2011 7:27 pm

    Beautiful! Thanks for those fascinating photos!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      October 3, 2011 8:07 pm

      You’re welcome, thanks for the comment!

  19. October 3, 2011 7:32 pm

    Oh wow! Great place, great photos- truly stunning. Me n hubbie could happily get lost in here. Congrats on well deserved FP

    • reubix1 permalink*
      October 3, 2011 8:07 pm

      It’s my first FP! Thanks for commenting…

  20. zenlifefrugal permalink
    October 3, 2011 8:33 pm

    WOW! Looks like a great place to be!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      October 3, 2011 8:41 pm

      It’s a small pocket of succulent beauty, well worth a visit!

  21. October 3, 2011 8:57 pm

    What beautiful succulents! Thanks for sharing!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      October 3, 2011 9:00 pm

      You’re welcome, thanks for commenting!

  22. October 3, 2011 10:30 pm

    As a soon-to-be MLIS librarian I really like the idea of this outside of a library! The colours here are just astounding and really give you a sense of reality’s proportions!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      October 3, 2011 10:33 pm

      My next visit I hope the library will be open. It sounds like it’s a treasure trove of historical amazement!

  23. October 3, 2011 10:49 pm

    oooo. i love it! we don’t have much for those plant types in iowa. great shots!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      October 3, 2011 10:54 pm

      Maybe you could spearhead the succulent effort in Iowa! … thanks for commenting.

  24. October 3, 2011 11:40 pm

    That is the largest aloe I have ever seen! Terrific photos. I’m high in the mountains close to 8000 ft. so my greenery is limited by altitude–and the elk.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      October 3, 2011 11:46 pm

      Eeek, Elk! Thanks for commenting…

  25. October 3, 2011 11:48 pm

    strange plants for me. interesting.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      October 3, 2011 11:49 pm

      But, beautiful, right? Thanks for commenting…

  26. lynell permalink
    October 4, 2011 12:19 am

    beautiful! so great to see you on freshly pressed!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      October 4, 2011 12:37 am

      Hey, there, it’s my first time being Pressed… And how great to see you here!

      • lynell permalink
        October 4, 2011 12:45 am

        You too! Such a nice surprise. Gorgeous photos! You deserve it!

  27. October 4, 2011 12:54 am

    What a beautiful garden. I bet it smells amazing there.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      October 4, 2011 12:59 am

      Actually, it is quite fragrant, but more in other parts of the garden… Of course, being so near to the Pacific Ocean adds to the overall ambience, too. It’s lovely!

  28. October 4, 2011 1:29 am

    This post makes me sad to live on the east coast. It’s absolutely lovely! I’ll put it on my west coast to-do list!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      October 4, 2011 1:33 am

      Thanks for commenting, a visit to the Sherman is definitely worth adding to the list!

  29. October 4, 2011 2:01 am

    bravo! greatest

  30. basangsisiw permalink
    October 4, 2011 2:19 am

    I used to have some of the cactus shown in your photos but sadly they all died out after I left home for work, that was like five years ago. Now seeing your beautiful shots just brought back memories. Where have all my cactus gone? 😦

    • reubix1 permalink*
      October 4, 2011 2:25 am

      What a sad story, maybe now’s the time to start the garden again?

  31. idhaa permalink
    October 4, 2011 5:18 am


    • reubix1 permalink*
      October 4, 2011 5:33 am

      Thanks for commenting ; )

  32. October 4, 2011 5:22 am

    aaaaaaaaaaa beautifulllllllll

  33. October 4, 2011 5:24 am

    oke you are walcome

  34. October 4, 2011 5:36 am

    Wow! I’ve never seen a garden like this. Great capture! Thank you for sharing this, you definitely deserve to be in the freshly pressed.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      October 4, 2011 5:46 am

      Thanks for the lovely compliment!

  35. Kai permalink
    October 4, 2011 8:07 am

    Pics are breathtaking!

  36. October 4, 2011 9:29 am

    Wow, beautiful photos. Great post! 🙂

    • reubix1 permalink*
      October 4, 2011 12:07 pm

      Thanks for commenting and for the compliment!

  37. October 4, 2011 10:23 am


    • reubix1 permalink*
      October 4, 2011 12:07 pm

      Thanks for the comment!

  38. erhu ianyce permalink
    October 4, 2011 11:27 am

    those were stunning and like everything about it 🙂

  39. October 4, 2011 4:04 pm

    I love the succulent bed! Succulents are very abundant in the yards and landscaping in my neighborhood. Love it!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      October 4, 2011 4:19 pm

      Lucky you… I’m trying to insinuate more succulents into the yards in my neighborhood too!

  40. October 4, 2011 6:57 pm

    Ahhh, this brings back great memories. This is one of my favorite gardens! Your pictures certainly did it justice.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      October 4, 2011 6:59 pm

      Thanks very much, I’m glad I could bring back memories!

  41. October 8, 2011 12:56 pm

    succulents are my favourites.I had a balcony full of them but they overtook me and the bonsai. Just some of the big onesleft:great shots though

  42. Cassie permalink
    October 11, 2011 8:14 pm

    I love the perfect rows of succulents. Awesome.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      October 11, 2011 8:53 pm

      That impressed me the most as well!

  43. bwgalerie permalink
    October 21, 2011 6:19 pm

    beautiful garden. i bet it’s nice to hang out there! =)

    • reubix1 permalink*
      October 21, 2011 6:23 pm

      It is … I can’t wait to check it out in the winter months, too… succulents look so gorgeous after a rain, or under overcast skies; the colors intensify!

  44. reubix1 permalink*
    October 3, 2011 9:25 pm

    Thanks for the blog love!


  1. Sherman Library Gardens Tour (repost) | plantstudios
  2. UK News | Walking Tour: Sherman Library & Gardens
  3. Dahlia – Cactus – Saint Saens | Landscaping - Gardening

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