Tour showcases seven unique gardens

Seven unique gardens will be featured in Ramona Garden Club’s second annual Garden Tour and Plant Sale that will be held, rain or shine, on Saturday, April 18, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Proceeds from the self-guided tour and sale benefit student scholarships and community projects.

The gardens are spread throughout Ramona — two are in the west end, one on the east end, two in San Diego Country Estates and two in the Ryland development.

At one of the gardens, tour goers will have the opportunity to view a special custom-built Southwest-style home — inside and outside — with panoramic views to the ocean. Refreshments will be served there. The estate features more than 20 acres of Australian-type planting such as grevilleas, proteas, banksias, palm trees, kangaroo paw and tea tree amongst natural rock outcroppings. Refreshments will be served there.

Whimsical displays, bat boxes, a raised vegetable garden and a working worm farm are at another location. At this colorful garden site will be a composting demonstration by master composters.

Gather water-saving ideas while visiting two gardens that won top awards in San Diego County’s California Friendly Landscape Contest in 2008. The winner of the 2008 Do-It-Yourself Garden showcases handmade art amongst cacti and succulents and a winding hillside staircase to a bird’s-eye view.

Stroll by a 300-year-old Engelmann oak tree while enjoying the views of open space. Many bird species have been spotted in this yard, which features a koi pond, conifers, bridges and picnic areas.

The Plant Sale will take place in the parking lot of First Business Bank at 1315 Main St. A variety of quality plants well-suited to growing in Ramona will be available, including more than 200 Queen palms. Also at the Main Street location will be a raffle, a Master Gardeners booth, gently used garden items, cement leaf castings and garden-related vendors.

Tickets are $15 and are available in advance at Ramona Interiors, 707 Main St. Tickets will be sold the day of the event at the First Business Bank location. Maps to the locations and descriptions of the gardens will be provided with the tickets. For more information, visit the club’s Web site at ramonagardenclub.com or call 271-8208.

Included in the tour are:

JoAnn Cruz Garden

The Southwest-style house and extensive gardens are seven years old. They are part of a 25-acre property with panoramic views, even to the ocean on a clear day. A large mature collection of palm trees, a pond and several waterfalls help lend a tropical feel to an otherwise largely drought tolerant landscape of cacti and succulents. Part of the property is used to grow large drifts of proteas and kangaroo paws for commercial sale.

The two-story contemporary home was custom built to take advantage of the spectacular views. Special features abound within the 5,000-squarefoot house along with many unique furnishings from JoAnn’s worldwide travels. The bottom floor of the house was built around existing rock formations and should not be missed.

Tom and Debby

Larkin Garden

This garden centers around the mature oaks at the rear of the lot, which backs up to the open space of Stone Mountain in San Diego Country Estates.  The backyard is a naturalized garden, with ferns and many other low-maintenance plants.  

The entire landscape is maintained with well water. A large Trex deck is shaded by the oaks. A man-made waterfall/creek meanders for approximately 30 feet across the yard under the largest oak, with several smaller sitting areas adjacent to the creek.  The backyard garden opens to views of the adjacent natural open space, seasonal creek and hiking trail. A large, irregularly shaped pool on the other side of the lot is landscaped with palms and succulents and has two sitting areas.

There is a trellised, shaded courtyard at the front of the house with a waterfall and small pond.  The courtyard has a small sitting area with extensive shade plants and wall art.

Danna Givot Garden

Planting of this 3.3-acre parcel started in October 2001 when the Givots  moved into their home.  The more level parts of the parcel were devoid of most vegetation with the exception of a few native oaks and some manzanita, which they have maintained as part of their landscaping.  They predominately chose cacti, succulents and native plants because they could not justify using excessive water when there are so many beautiful drought-tolerant plants ideally suited for the climate. They also have citrus, apple, pear, pomegranate, avocado, Palo Verde, Chorisia speciosa and Brugmansia trees. In 2008, they received the Ramona “Best in District” award in San Diego County’s California Friendly Landscape Contest.

The Givots enjoy the variety of plant sizes, shapes, textures and colors that cacti and succulents can provide, as well as the fact that there is almost always something in bloom, so they have the associated color and excitement of spring all year long.  Finally, they love the fact that birds and butterflies are naturally attracted to the gardens, which include more than 150 tons of gravel as well as many tons of larger rocks.  These materials help to retain moisture and to minimize weed growth.  The gravel, along with the succulents, provides extensive defensible space to help keep their home as safe as possible in fire-threatened Ramona.

John and Maddie

Volper Garden

This owner-designed garden started with a new home on land bulldozed and denuded by the builder seven years ago.  Rocks were brought in by the owner from the excavations for new houses.  The owners, who are bird watchers, incorporated trees, bushes and plants for nesting, food, and a place for shelter.  A record has been kept of the birds sighted month by month each year and to date has totaled 108 different species.  

The garden features an Engelmann oak tree estimated by a Berkley professor to be 300 to 500 years old that has a span of 76 feet, a koi pond with waterfall, fruit trees, cedars, junipers and many plants.

There are three patios designed by the owner.  Many hardscape features built by the owner include a pergola for climbing roses, three bridges, an arbor and pergola with climbing roses, granite topped picnic table, cabinets and tables, lawn chairs and a potting table.  

It is a place to barbecue and have fun entertaining their children, grandchildren and friends.  Walking the many paths to different destinations and seating in various places gives time to reflect and enjoy His creation of beauty.

Michael Mendell and

Mimi Kirk Garden

When their hillside backyard that backs to open space was ravaged and nearly completely burned in the 2003 Cedar Fire, Mimi Kirk and Mike Mendell decided they wanted a garden that was natural to Ramona, a fire break from potential future fires, drought tolerant, low maintenance and, most importantly, beautiful.

What they came up with is their hillside terraced with stone walls built from rock from the property and filled with literally hundreds of mostly cacti and succulents that explode with color all year-round. A colorful winding staircase takes visitors to the top of the hillside providing a bird’s-eye view of the garden and for miles to the west. Cacti and succulents grouped together for visual impact as well as unique hand made art throughout the garden will keep your eyes jumping from one area to the next trying to absorb everything.

The garden won the 2008 San Diego County California Friendly Landscape Contest for a Do-It-Yourself Garden.

Manson Garden

Rod and Janette Manson’s home sits on a multi-level lot with a view of Mount Cuyamaca. The lower level of the lot sweeps around the right side of the house and features three large oak trees.

Their intention has always been to keep this area natural, thus you will only see bird feeders and a birdhouse here. Rod and Janette have lived in their home since it was built in 2000. They view their yard as an extension of their home. The yard has an outdoor living area, dining area and a recently added garden that brings the kitchen outdoors as well.

Janette and Rod have done the vast majority of the gardening work, which has been a nine-year experiment to find out what will grow in Ramona’s unique climate. The Mansons have had great success with junipers, roses and other hearty plants in their yard.

They have a less is more approach to gardening. They believe in allowing space between plants so that the plant’s natural shape will show. In addition to junipers and roses, the yard has numerous fruit trees, drought tolerant plants and fun garden accents.

One of the focal points in their backyard is their pool with waterfall. The pool has a reduced chlorination system that uses one-tenth of the chlorine that a normal pool does. The pool is appealing to humans as well as birds, bats and assorted critters. This water source contributed to the yard earning a Certified Wildlife Habitat designation.

Rod’s interest in plants stems from time spent as a nursery manager when he was younger. Janette’s interest in gardening began as a teenager after meeting neighbors who loved to graft and breed roses. Janette even tried her hand at entering roses at Walter Anderson’s 2007 Rose Show. Her Moon Shadow, Tiffany and Fragrant Cloud roses earned first and second place recognition.

Carin and Graham

Bunney Garden

Carin and Graham’s garden is unlike most gardens in Ramona. Its display not only has lots of flowers, but foliage form, textures and, of course, foliage color. Shades of blue, pink, burgundy, white and red are their choice of flower color. The adults wanted a serene and beautiful space for entertaining and outdoor dining.

Many kinds of birds live here or visit regularly, and various species of lizards, spiders, insects, rabbits, gophers and squirrels have taken up permanent residence. Having this diversity at eye level in the place where they spend much of their time gives them inspiration, tranquility, comfort and occasional irritation.

Originally installed in spring 2003, the garden offers a dining patio and spa surrounded by a redwood deck, a goldfish pond and a large lawn area and bubbly fountains. There are whimsical displays, bat boxes, a raised vegetable garden, an orchard and a working worm farm.

Planting beds and decorative cobalt blue planters are filled with many different flowering plants such as Pink Joey, Cordyline, Penstemon and Heliotrope. Various perennials dot the borders, and Hostas, Euphorbia, Liriope, Grasses, Alstroemeria and fragrant Honeysuckle cover the back fence.

Being a San Diego master gardener, Carin is aware of the need to cut the use of municipal water on outdoor plants. Her non-native gardens are set up with a micro-irrigation system from a 10,000-gallon well, which keeps the entire 2.5 acre property irrigated. They invite visitors to make themselves comfortable on any of the seating areas so that they may enjoy their garden and leave tranquil and at peace.

   
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