Wanda Mallen & Gary Vincent’s Fallbrook garden

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.

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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.

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The garden tells the story of two people with omnivorous taste in plants, fortified by a specialist’s attention to detail and culture.

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Through the gate, the garden walls enclose the main patio, but there are multiple sitting areas close to the house.

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Every advantage is made of the spectacular climate, so both people and plants can thrive.

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Year-round, the average daytime high is approximately a comfortable 76 degrees.

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Bromeliads and a variegated Ficus elastica espaliered against the house enjoy the dappled shade of the patio.

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Hanging rhipsalis and low bowls of cactus and succulents in stronger light at the periphery of the patio.

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Leaving the patio to the garden that sweeps and undulates on bark-covered paths around the property.

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The inclusion of so many trees and shrubs gives this dry garden a lush, verdant feel.

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Bright sparks of summer-blooming aloes thread through many of the plantings.

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Spacing of both plants and paths is generous. With two acres, there’s no need for crowding.

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A more formal path with wood risers and decomposed granite accommodates a gentle slope. Dudleya just out of bloom.

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The risered path leads roughly in the direction of this fountain close to the house, where cycads nestle in under a window.

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The garden is so large and well-screened that orientation can be difficult at times, giving the impression of a world apart.

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Some in the group were palm people, some were cactus people.

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My attention tends to drift towards agaves. Agave americana var. striata, its stripes bleached out in the strong afternoon sun.

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Near the garage, an acacia, possibly A. cultriformis.

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Madagascar palms flank the gate near the garage, with a huge mound of Crassula ‘Jitters’ on the left.

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Plantings along the entrance drive. The palm in the distance might be Brahea armata. There are stunning specimens of this palm in the garden.

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Before we’re done, we have to head back to ogle the container plants.

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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.

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7 Responses to Wanda Mallen & Gary Vincent’s Fallbrook garden

  1. hb says:

    They’ve done so much right, really impressive: the mix of shrubby with “architectural” to bring balance to the force, a spectacular pot for each spectacular plant, arranged so beautifully, each plant given space so it can be admired individually, monochrome uniform benches that fade into the background so the plants are the stars. So much thought has gone into it. Much to learn from here! Must have been a thrill to see, and worth, or almost worth, the painfully long bus ride I think you mentioned.

  2. What an amazing collection, it’s great that they open up from time to time to share with others who can appreciate. And I bet it’s looking rough given the drought and water restrictions, and it looks great!
    Thanks for posting.

  3. This is pretty much my dream property. I love everything about it, most especially all that space. And of course the climate. I’m thinking northern San Diego county would be a pretty dreamy retirement destination.

    Even their potted plants look amazing!

  4. Kris P says:

    From the range of plants and the pots holding them to the staging, that container collection is magnificent! I love that covered patio too. My husband and I seriously considered buying a house in Fallbrook – those 1 to 2 acre lots were compelling – but work and family demands interfered. With current water restrictions, I guess it was for the best.

  5. Amy says:

    Lots of great plants to soak up – thanks for the tour! I loved the greenhouse. So tidy, so many interesting things growing, so many cool pots!

  6. Denise says:

    @Hoov, so true. This garden was a humbling experience.
    @Brian, I agree it’s so generous to have private gardens open for touring. There’s not a lot of info generally available on this garden, but it’s quite well known amongst the relevant plant societies.
    @Gerhard, I know! A strolling garden. I’d have a pack of Irish wolfhounds following me around.
    @Kris, keep this garden on your radar if it comes up to tour again, and let me know and I’ll join you.
    @Amy, you’re most welcome. It is a plants-centric garden that I know you’d enjoy.

  7. Gabi Crook says:

    Disfruté mucho de las fotos de su jardín….y también soy cultivadora de suculentas….!!! Quiero estar en contacto con ustedes e ir viendo sus plantas….Muchas gracias….!!!

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