fine weather for garden tours

The overcast skies burned off late morning but temperatures stayed moderate with light breezes. Nice garden touring weather. More will be forthcoming from the Venice Garden & Home Tour later this week, but Sunday’s tour deserves a quick post because it is a very special event to us locals, the Mary Lou Heard Memorial Garden Tour. To learn why this tour is so special, you must read Dustin’s heart-tugging tribute to Mary Lou on his blog here. It may come as a surprise — it has always surprised me — that with few exceptions Southern California has been largely bereft of great local plant nurseries. One such beloved exception was the wonderfully curated plant nursery Mary Lou Heard created in the drive-by city of Westminster, on the border of Los Angeles and Orange Counties, that drew in believers from cities in both counties. The tour reflects this spillover, with tour gardens weighted probably more toward Orange County. It was at Mary Lou’s nursery many years ago that I first met a teen-aged, plant-crazed Dustin Gimbel. (As a customer of the nursery when Dustin worked there, I distinctly remember having a discussion bordering on argument about erodium with him.)

To have his own garden included on her namesake tour this year is a very special, full-circle moment for Dustin and Mary Lou and their friendship that began with a love of beautiful plants.

Grevillea strutting on the tour
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These are all photos of Dustin’s garden, the only garden on the tour I attended Sunday. The back garden has been the focus of Dustin’s attentions recently and has undergone a dramatic transformation. It now includes large vegetable beds, an outdoor dining area, and the newly completed water garden built from concrete blocks. (All the materials in Dustin’s garden come from the humblest of origins.) That simple wooden screen affords the most amazing framing opportunities of multiple shifting views through the cut-outs from either side of the screen, plants billowing on one side, glasses clinking on the other. The new water garden is ingeniously sited under a cut-out, straddling both the dining area and outer garden. Watching the breeze-driven meanderings of those glass floats would be a fine summer evening’s entertainment.

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Acacia pendula gaining size on the rebar arbor in the front garden.

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For a look at Dustin’s front garden in soft evening light instead of mid-day glare, check out this post from fall 2010.

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5 Responses to fine weather for garden tours

  1. Kaveh says:

    He definitely has a gift for hardscaping that I’ll never have. Looks great.

  2. Thanks for the visit. I read about the tour on Dustin’s blog and it sounded special. The 3rd photo with the rectangular slabs and gravel, wow! Such restraint. I would be cramming that area full of plants, but I love it just as he’s got it.

  3. ks says:

    I love all the photos I’ve seen of Dustins garden, and hope to beg a tour some day when I am next down in Socal.

    When my BILs lived in HB, they took me to Mary Lous’ nursery a couple of times.A destination nursery to be sure.

  4. Awe. Thanks Denise. Great as always to see you Sunday. I hope you will get your garden on the tour soon.

  5. Denise says:

    Kaveh, the problem with hardscape is that it’s perfectly good space for more plants!
    Loree, Dustin says he’s been paring back the garden, backing off the exuberance of the first year and streamlining it. What discipline!
    Kathy, you’ve been everywhere on the West Coast.
    Dustin, it was fun to see so many people enjoying your garden.

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