Laguna Beach Gate & Garden Tour

On a lark, Dave and I decided to attend the Laguna Beach Garden Club’s “Gate and Garden Tour 2016” last week.

I walked into the office with tickets in hand and blurted out to Dave – “The garden zeitgeist, Dave. It’s what we’re missing in our bag of kung fu. Our judo is strong in many areas, but weak in ‘gates’ and ‘gardens’. We need this.” Dave’s eyebrows shot up. “Wait, what? A garden tour? Do we have to? They probably won’t even let me in. Don’t you have to be a gardener or something to go on that?”

To be honest, this was a little zany. As agents, we see lovely gardens and gates and flooring and ceilings and kitchens and walls and paths and everything possibly home-related every other day. It’s what we do, but apparently that wasn’t enough for me. I needed more. I wanted to see what a curated tour would look like.

What does a garden look like when the home is not for sale? Is it nicer? I’ve never been on a garden tour before. Maybe there will be master gardeners milling about, speaking Latin to each other and giggling over plant jokes “So this brugmansia sanguinea and this cattail are at the bar…”

Should I wear a floppy white hat? Will there be drinks in the gardens? I like drinks – perhaps I’ll encounter a lavender-scented gin and tonic with a dash of bitters and a rose petal floating in the middle. With a bacon swizzle. Heavens, yes. It was a Friday, after all. And maybe small sandwiches handed out by white-gloved volunteers.

Good Lord above, I felt so unprepared all of a sudden. What will I wear? “Keep your cool” I thought “This is Laguna. It’s a tour. Of gardens. Hippies. Artists. Retirees with green thumbs. This isn’t Newport – no one was going to check your 401K balance at the door.”

“You’re a gardener.” I told myself. “They’ll accept you.”

Successfully psyched, we arrived on the scene, declined the coffee in the charming but sedate meeting garden and decided to get really wild and buck the invite to be ferried by limo bus the first home and drive right there instead. Totally outside the norm; they had no idea rebels such as ourselves would want in the gates let alone storm them. They’ll be more selective with sales next year, to be sure.

Laguna Beach Garden Club Gate & Garden Tour 2016
That’s Dave. He’s willingly walking into someone’s garden just, well, because I asked him to.

Laguna Beach Garden Club Gate & Garden Tour 2016
Lovely garden on Manzanita Drive

Laguna Beach Garden Club Gate & Garden Tour 2016
The previous owner of this garden was an obstetrician (true story) and the docent pointed out the whimsical weathervane

Laguna Beach Garden Club Gate & Garden Tour 2016
A vintage coat rack re-purposed as a basket rack

Laguna Beach Garden Club Gate & Garden Tour 2016
A towering brugmansia (Angel’s Trumpet) above

Laguna Beach Garden Club Gate & Garden Tour 2016
Watercolorist painting the scene

Laguna Beach Garden Club Gate & Garden Tour 2016
View from the garden overlooking Laguna Village

Laguna Beach Garden Club Gate & Garden Tour 2016
Next stop on the Tour

Laguna Beach Garden Club Gate & Garden Tour 2016
Fountain + Gardens

Laguna Beach Garden Club Gate & Garden Tour 2016
Attendees. Hats, yes, drinks, no. Shame. Maybe the next house.

Laguna Beach Garden Club Gate & Garden Tour 2016
No rest for the wicked. Dave courting an offer on his REO.

Laguna Beach Garden Club Gate & Garden Tour 2016
Wish I would’ve taken more photos of this garden; I spent most of my time talking to the owner about how he replaced his garden with this beautiful silver carpet of plants…

Laguna Beach Garden Club Gate & Garden Tour 2016
Stop #3; Santa Barbara architecture with drought tolerant plants

Laguna Beach Garden Club Gate & Garden Tour 2016
Entry at the Santa Barbara on Manzanita

Laguna Beach Garden Club Gate & Garden Tour 2016
A style that never fades – clean, white, troweled stucco with a mix of kangaroo paw, bougainvillea, brugmansia, blue ice plant, lantana, and that huge aloe-anemone-looking creature camera right

Laguna Beach Garden Club Gate & Garden Tour 2016
Gold swan floaty. You need one of these.

Laguna Beach Garden Club Gate & Garden Tour 2016
Poolside

Laguna Beach Garden Club Gate & Garden Tour 2016
Exotic hats, yes, still no drinks. I really need to chair this event next year

Laguna Beach Garden Club Gate & Garden Tour 2016
Stop #4 – This Laguna garden was all about the sculpture.

Laguna Beach Garden Club Gate & Garden Tour 2016
This was made by the owner’s daughter, Torii Cooper. I love this. A life-size Italian porcelain amazonian astride a wrinkly pachyderm. Let’s be friends.

Laguna Beach Garden Club Gate & Garden Tour 2016
The owner had several clay pieces from Oaxaca; this is by a blind ceramicist, Jose Garcia Antonio. There’s a bit about him here.

Laguna Beach Garden Club Gate & Garden Tour 2016
Another Oaxacan piece in the garden. Let’s see – wide-eyed winged bat/owl creatures entwined with a maiden garbed in totemic animal figurines playing musical instruments. Check. My kind of art.

Laguna Beach Garden Club Gate & Garden Tour 2016
Close-up of the totemic folk woman. Those eyes on that bat creature – what is he looking at?

Laguna Beach Garden Club Gate & Garden Tour 2016
Tour-ists arriving to see the sights

Laguna Beach Garden Club Gate & Garden Tour 2016
Ah, yes, the massive Head of Great Surprise planted in the front yard. I wish I was neighbors with this guy. Oh, the garden parties we’d have.

Laguna Beach Garden Club Gate & Garden Tour 2016
Last stop on the train; handpainted address streetside.

Laguna Beach Garden Club Gate & Garden Tour 2016
Much has been written about this home and there are a number of photographs abound all over the net; suffice to say the Spanish cottage on the sprawling acre is one of a kind.

Laguna Beach Garden Club Gate & Garden Tour 2016
Pathways lead off from the house through the gardens; Pacific views beyond.

Laguna Beach Garden Club Gate & Garden Tour 2016
A rare photo of the photographer. Six other photos are known.

Laguna Beach Garden Club Gate & Garden Tour 2016
Garden of Green Urchins

Laguna Beach Garden Club Gate & Garden Tour 2016
A gentleman with his sepia pencil and laid paper sketching in the shade. We chatted briefly; a friend of his showed me a couple of his other drawings and they were super amazing. I think his name was David; sorry I didn’t write it down now… UPDATE – I found his name – David Kizziar; his FB page is here

Laguna Beach Garden Club Gate & Garden Tour 2016
Dave strolling past the blue pottery shack on the property. I need a shack dedicated to pottery now.

Laguna Beach Garden Club Gate & Garden Tour 2016

Laguna Beach Garden Club Gate & Garden Tour 2016
Like we began, Dave strolling through a garden path, except this time Dave is smiling not laughing.

A huge thank you to the Laguna Beach Garden Club and the homeowners who let us in to marvel at their wonder-ful gardens. While there were no libations to be had and nary a finger sandwich in sight, the landscaping, the sculptures, the flora and helpful fauna were more than satiating.

Bravo!

Assuredly, we shall return next year for another romp in the gardens!

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