The CSSA’s tour of private gardens for their 2015 Biennial Convention in June also included the 2-acre garden of Wanda Mallen and Gary Vincent in Fallbrook, Calif. This superb collector’s garden, started from scratch in approximately 1999-2000, is occasionally open for tours through local garden societies. Areas of interest include cactus and succulents, tropicals, palms, conifers, and Australian plants. I know very little about the garden other than what I learned on foot, but I can provide some scant information on Fallbrook.
Fallbrook is located in North San Diego County, set in ancient Coast Live Oak groves, the evergreen Quercus agrifolia. The oaks have made room for a thriving equine culture and orchards of avocados, which give Fallbrook its title of “Avocado Capital of the World.” Avocados may be a less thirsty crop than almonds, but they’re still a challenge to grow in a drought. Temperatures here at home yesterday reached 96 degrees; Fallbrook, about 100 miles south of me, reached 97. I was surprised to find how closely the respective monthly temperatures tracked each other this August. Rainfall averages are similar to Los Angeles, approximately 16 inches, falling mainly in the months of November through April. Avocados and flowers are the biggest cash crops, but there’s also over 60 wholesale and retail plant nurseries.
The garden tells the story of two people with omnivorous taste in plants, fortified by a specialist’s attention to detail and culture.
Through the gate, the garden walls enclose the main patio, but there are multiple sitting areas close to the house.
Every advantage is made of the spectacular climate, so both people and plants can thrive.
Year-round, the average daytime high is approximately a comfortable 76 degrees.
Bromeliads and a variegated Ficus elastica espaliered against the house enjoy the dappled shade of the patio.
Hanging rhipsalis and low bowls of cactus and succulents in stronger light at the periphery of the patio.
Leaving the patio to the garden that sweeps and undulates on bark-covered paths around the property.
The inclusion of so many trees and shrubs gives this dry garden a lush, verdant feel.
Bright sparks of summer-blooming aloes thread through many of the plantings.
Spacing of both plants and paths is generous. With two acres, there’s no need for crowding.
A more formal path with wood risers and decomposed granite accommodates a gentle slope. Dudleya just out of bloom.
The risered path leads roughly in the direction of this fountain close to the house, where cycads nestle in under a window.
The garden is so large and well-screened that orientation can be difficult at times, giving the impression of a world apart.
Some in the group were palm people, some were cactus people.
My attention tends to drift towards agaves. Agave americana var. striata, its stripes bleached out in the strong afternoon sun.
Near the garage, an acacia, possibly A. cultriformis.
Madagascar palms flank the gate near the garage, with a huge mound of Crassula ‘Jitters’ on the left.
Plantings along the entrance drive. The palm in the distance might be Brahea armata. There are stunning specimens of this palm in the garden.
Before we’re done, we have to head back to ogle the container plants.
I’ll leave you to explore the greenhouse which houses some serious plant collecting, all staged beautifully on benches built by Gary. I don’t think temperatures get much lower than 40 degrees in winter, but I have read that Wanda keeps her collection of African plants in this greenhouse year-round.