Have you ever toured a garden, when the moment you stepped through the front gate you were instantly transported to another time and place? That was the case with Lecia Davis’s magnificent garden in Laguna Beach, California.
I had the opportunity to visit this exquisite garden a few weeks ago and was completely caught off guard. I lived in Laguna Beach 18 years ago, and had forgotten just how beautiful this area is.
Lecia’s home and garden reminded me of something you’d see in the hills of Tuscany. While she did have help from a very talented landscape designer, Lecia was very much involved in every aspect of her garden’s creation, wanting one that was low-maintenance yet lush and full of personality and fragrance.
The garden tour starts from the street, as I’m ushered down a steep flight of stairs through the ‘fern grotto’, around the side and to the rear garden.
And from there, the journey begins…
This garden is built on a steep terrace – something that could easily overwhelm most gardeners. However, by creating three main terraces with wide, winding pathways throughout, one can easily walk through the garden and enjoy each layer as they go.
Unfortunately, my camera’s settings were a bit off and the ‘white’ that you’re seeing is actually the blue, blue ocean. Darn. As I mentioned earlier, Lecia wanted her garden to consist of evergreen yet colorful plants. Walking down the stairs, flowering jasmine, rosemary and potato vines softly drape over the walls, while sweet pea shrubs and westringea bloom their heads off. All of these are evergreen and require very little maintenance throughout the year, yet provide so much color and fragrance.
In December, no less!And speaking of stairs – Lecia had the forethought to make sure holes were carved into the stone steps, allowing for soil and irrigation for her ‘pocket plantings’. This is a great way to soften hardscaping while also lending an air of permanence to the garden – as if the plants have rooted there over time.
Little touches, like a vintage watering can nestled beneath the flowering potato vine, add even more personality and charm to her garden.
This is the view on the second terrace, looking back towards the house.
I took this photo to show how important a wide stairway is to not only help visitors easily navigate down a steep terrace, but to also ‘open up’ a space. So often, I see small and narrow stairs in a garden which make the space feel much steeper than it actually is.
I also love the shape of these exclamation-point cypress trees that punctuate the garden, helping to draw the eye upwards towards the house.A bird’s-eye view of the lavender garden shows decomposed granite pathways meandering through the mounds of fragrant English and French lavender. The semi-circle pergola on the left holds a dormant wisteria, providing a shady respite in the summer’s heat.
More views of the lavender garden, with colorful lemon trees on either end of the pergola. Mixed within the lavender beds are variegated echium and herbs such as basil and rosemary – can’t you just smell the delicious scents of this enclosed space?
Heading back up to the first terrace again, I passed this charming fountain built into the retaining wall. I love the simple spigots and graceful streams of water….