Gossip in the Garden

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Lecia Davis’s Laguna Beach Garden

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…

  Rounding the corner, I arrive on the main limestone terrace, looking out towards the ocean.  And from here, it becomes clear that I’m somewhere very, very special.

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.

 

On the garden’s second terrace is a raised pool with a matching limestone pool house.  Don’t you just want to curl up in one of those lounge chairs and read a good book under the olive trees?  

This is the view on the second terrace, looking back towards the house.

Seriously!
At the bottom of the hill, is the lavender and citrus garden.

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….

 

Heading back up to the main terrace, I plop down into these comfy chairs to watch the sunset over the Pacific Ocean.

Simply divine!

 

23 Responses to Lecia Davis’s Laguna Beach Garden

  1. You are definitely right about being transported to another time and place. That is one awesome landscape! Appreciate that you shared this with us. Oh, and I love those “pocket” plantings 🙂

    • Hi Sharon! I’m so glad you could take a ‘tour’ with me in this fantastic garden. I loved those tuck-away gardens, too, which were Lecia’s idea. Even though this is a grand estate, it didn’t feel overwhelming at all since she had filled it with so many personal touches. It was more like a ‘homey’ grand estate! I hope you’re feeling better and having been thinking lots about you!

  2. Rebecca – Your camera settings were not a “bit off” in that photo where you wanted to capture the blue sky. Too big a range to capture in one photo. Nice story. Makes me want to see it myself.

    • Saxon – thank you SO much! As I was writing this last night, I told my husband “I should ask Saxon what the heck I did wrong” so I’m thrilled to hear it wasn’t my camera, but just too big of a range. I should’ve known better, but the ocean was just so beautiful I was hoping it would turn out. Glad you enjoyed the tour!

  3. What a serene and lovely retreat! Your photos capture it perfectly. That first one, of sunlight streaming through stone archways, really sets the tone and mood of the garden. Amazing view, too.

    • Thanks Debra, I kept saying the entire time “Oh, how I wish Debra was here”. You would’ve LOVED her home. In fact, Lecia said anytime you want to speak at the club she’d love to have you over to see her home and garden.

  4. What a fabulous garden, Rebecca. I’ll never be able to see it, but your post “takes” me there. I can just imagine what it would be like to breathe in the fragrance and soak up the sights in this lovely place.

    • Thank you, Rita. I wish you could’ve seen it but am glad you got to take a little tour today via my blog. I hope you’re enjoying the lovely weather we’re having this week!

  5. A couple years ago I spent 3 weeks in Tuscany. This is as close as it gets. Absolutely lovely. Nice article Rebecca.

    • Thanks Nancy – I’m glad you agree with me! It seems so many homes are remodeled with a Tuscan theme in mind, but they never quite ‘make the mark’. It’s wonderful to see one that does – Lecia’s home was exquisite down to the very last detail.

  6. Oh my, what an amazing place. The house must be as fabulous as the gardens. I was going to say that it would be hard to know where to spend one’s time, but then I thought of the pool. And the terrace with the ocean view, and what about that upper balcony/terrace at the top of the house? Too lovely.

    • Barbara, the house is absolutely as fantastic as the gardens. I don’t usually take photos of the inside of homes, but if I did – THIS would’ve been the home do photograph. And the amazing thing was that she did it all herself. She’s unbelievably talented as decorating as well as designing and it’s lovely to see what she created.