We thank everyone who played along with our Virtual Garden Tour 2020!

“I am happy as a child at the thought wandering among clusters of bushes, in the woods, among trees, herbs, rocks. No man loves the country more than I; for do not forests, trees, rocks re-echo that for which mankind longs.” Ludwig van Beethoven wrote this in a letter to a friend. Beethoven loved nature and found inspiration in long walks through the countryside.

Composers have long been inspired by the beauty of gardens and nature. Johannes Brahms walked at daybreak so he could “enjoy the freshness of early morning and listen to the singing of birds.” Claude Debussy said, “There is nothing more musical than a sunset.”

With this inspirational partnership in mind, and to help beat the isolation blues, we sent out a call for locals to capture their gardens using a cellphone. We believe you will be surprised by the individual artistic voices found in these gardens. Paired with beautiful music, please enjoy a stroll through elegant traditional gardens to eclectic, unconventional nature escapes!

Here are a few words from the gardeners and the Symphony of the Vines concert selections. Some gardeners chose to be anonymous.

Jim and Meg’s Garden, Atascadero (First garden in the video)
Concert Excerpt from “Baroque Masters Symphony Concert,” January 2020, Mission San Miguel
Concerto Grosso in A Major, Opus 6, No. 11
George Frideric Handel, composer

We have maintained some sort of garden for 40+ years, it is truly a passion. 20 years ago we had the opportunity to visit Europe for about a month, and came back very inspired by the gardens that we saw. Our current garden was designed 18 years ago with that in mind. We created a courtyard which combines the formal, boxwood hedges, roses and fountain, with a whimsical, country – Monet style around the parameters. We also have flowers everywhere else in the yard, and a large vegetable and fruit garden. Our goal is always to have color all year around. We have over 130 rosebushes, over 1500 bulbs, lots of perennials combined with annuals to change it up. We love dahlias, the rudbeckia family, anenomes, poppies, pansies, Shasta daisies, geraniums, hostas, dianthus, columbine, ranunculus, verbena and so much more. Plus, it’s great therapy!

Kiki’s Joy, Morro Bay (Video 1:43)
Concert excerpt from “Clarinet Quintet,” February 2020, Pear Valley Estate Wine, Paso Robles
Five Bagatelles, Opus 23, Forlana: Allegretto grazioso
Nancy Mathison, clarinet; Grace Seng, violin; Valerie Berg-Johansen, violin; Andrew Grishaw, viola; and Hilary Clark, cello.

The previous owner set the groundwork for my little garden retreat, and over the years it has been an evolving oasis for me. Discovering daily treasures…a new blue jay family, a bounty of apples, aromatic Double Delights…is a sensory Joy.

Heidi and Morris Sealy, Atascadero. (Video 3:49)
Concert excerpt from “Violin Cello DUO,” April 2020, Pear Valley Estate Wine, Paso Robles
Sonata for Violin and Cello
Maurice Ravel, composer
Maurice Sklar, violin, and Hilary Clark, cello.

The cows are from the countywide Cow Parade. “Picowso” is by Argentinian artist Maria Virginia Viera and the title cow “Moo-rro Bayley” was created by the well-known local artist Ted Emrick.

A New Garden – Paso Robles (Video 4:18)
This enclosed entryway garden was installed August 2019. The drought tolerant flowering plants and grasses suit the hilltop site’s wind and extreme sun. The arid conditions are offset by the subtle sound of the water feature. Garden art collected over the years in Sedona and Minneapolis art fairs has transitioned well to its new location here.

La Mancha, Avila Valley (Video 4:39)
La Mancha’s gardens are ever changing. Plant choices are guided by drought, gopher and deer tolerance.  Spring is the most colorful time of year as plentiful blooms appear after winter rains. We are experimenting with potted succulents because they are easy to rearrange and maintain. So grateful for our Mediterranean climate and the wide variety of plants that thrive in our small slice of paradise.

Ed and M’lou Mayo, San Luis Obispo (Video 5:14)
Ed and I each have our own gardens separated by a peaceful lawn. We don’t have names for them (though I do have a section I call Cactus Corner)and they are distinctly different. He grows food (delicious tomatoes and zucchini) and I focus on plants strictly for their beauty. However, as is seen  in our pictures, there is a lot of artistry as well in his garden.

My garden is focused on succulents and cacti. When we moved to this property some 15 years ago, I quickly claimed a section of the back yard. The soil in SLO isn’t naturally favorable  to succulents so I amended it to increase drainage and as well brought in boulders, rocks and laid out paths for aesthetic purposes. When we remodeled the kitchen, we had a goodly amount of tiles left. So I shattered and used them to make a decorative surface for a bench from which to survey my garden and a bubbling fountain.

Over these many years I have obviously done a lot of planting. I  know very few names of my plants and haven’t researched information about them. I approach my garden as I do my my art, using plants as a medium, responding to their shapes, colors, textures.

Scotty and Robin Smith, Paso Robles (Video 6:22)
Excerpt from “Mendelssohn in Scotland” symphony concert, March 2019, Mission San Miguel
Concerto in C Major for Flute and Harp
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, composer
Suzanne Duffy, flute and Catherine Yom Litaker, harp

Our garden started off as dead grass and weeds. Eight years later, we have made quite a bit of progress. I love raised beds, but I wanted them to have some architectural interest and Scotty delivered! We also have a rather ugly back fence and I’ve decided it’s a great place to hang my paintings and other artful finds.

Karen Willer, Creston (Video 7:23)
The challenge of gardening in Creston is to have things bloom in spring before the deer start browsing. I’ve been lucky to have Sweet Peas naturalize behind my house. Last year the deer had a feast, but this year the deer stayed away. My joy was to cut hundreds of blooms, put them in jelly jars and give them to friends. The first response of people is a surprised smile and then most comment that Sweet Peas remind them of their mother or grandmother, others that it is their favorite flower.

Mary’s Love of Roses, Paso Robles (Video 7:38)
It seems that roses love me as much as I love them. They bloom from April to October with occasional naps for a week or two when fortunately my fruit trees fill in the rose gaps. Over the 20 years I have lived on my ranchette in Paso Robles, the roses have welcomed both me and guests approaching my home as they hug my driveway and the entrance gate. Seldom is there not a display of roses in one of my favorite vases. How lucky can a girl be?!

San Squalor, Atascadero (Video 7:51)
Steve and Barbie LaSalle
Excerpt from “Mendelssohn in Scotland” symphony concert, March 2019, Mission San Miguel
Symphony No. 3 in A Minor, Opus 56 “Scottish,” Allegro vivacissimo
Felix Mendelssohn, composer

Our place is called San Squalor for obvious reasons. We have been at it for 35 years with some success and some failures. We have made it a point to use only native  plants, of course. The whole place is on drip systems. We have used weed control cloth which works exceptionally well. We have been successful at creating a private forest of trees, shrubs and walls to create our own gated and enclosed property.

Scattered about are large and small sculptures which adds year round interest to the garden. We have a large outdoor room with steel doors and tall fencing, lined with Star Of Jasmine. Two works in the planning stage are a Large Garden Clock and a Heroic Sized Lion.

Donnie and Nancy Walter’s Secret Garden, San Luis Obispo (Video 9:00)
We purchased our home 22 years ago, and have just recently completed our garden. We were inspired by the tradition and flowers from old English gardens. It is a peaceful and calm place to retreat to – complete with bunny rabbits, three squirrels, and all kinds of birds. We love our secret garden.

Central Coast Tropical, Anonymous (Video 9:51)
Excerpt from “Piano Quartets,” September 2019, Community Presbyterian Church of Cambria. The concert featured Robert Cassidy, piano, Maurice Skylar, violin, Andrew Grishaw, viola, and Hilary Clark, cello.
Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, Opus 47, Andate cantabile
Robert Schumann, composer

Yvonne & Vic Smith’s Garden, Atascadero (Video 10:32)
The Smith garden has been a constant evolution since 2008. Yvonne developed the initial design and worked with gardeners to plant the initial plants. Over the years, some plants have been removed and replaced, and many more have been added to provide the garden with continuous blooms from March through October.  The pond was dug by a neighbor who owns a Kubota tractor, but Yvonne and Vic placed the stones around the pond and designed the waterfall. Vic and a buddy built the pergola beside the pond.  Vic also built the garden gate and staircase, including the copper railing, while Yvonne laid the flagstone path from the staircase to the pergola. Vic maintains the pond, while Yvonne maintains the plants and the drip irrigation system, which she also installed.  Yvonne plans to hire a gardener soon so that she will have more time for weaving, which is her second passion.

Ed and Irene Rush, Atascadero (Video 11:25)

Jill’s Garden, Templeton (Video 11:35)
“He who plants a garden, plants happiness.“ This is an old Chinese proverb and it pretty much sums up how I feel about my gardens!

Oriana‘s Flowers & Bee Garden, Paso Robles (Video 11:51)
Gardening is my passion. I was so excited when we bought our home 4 years ago in Paso Robles and had the opportunity to start my entire front and backyard from scratch. I love texture and color and put in all my favorite garden and tea roses. I also consider my yard a haven for the honeybees with tons of English and Spanish lavender as well as lantana, + blooming vines for them to snack on. Plus some really cool succulents and a huge agave for texture. It truly is my passion and I just love to see it growing and blooming out there.

Ken and Rosemary Delfino, Los Osos (Video 12:21)
Excerpt from Clarinet Quintet, February 2020, Pear Valley Estate Wine, Paso Robles
Sing, Sing, Sing (With a Swing)
Louis Prima, composer
Nancy Mathison, clarinet; Grace Seng, violin; Valerie Berg-Johansen, violin; Andrew Grishaw, viola; and Hilary Clark, cello.

We started our landscape with a vacant plot in 2016.  We are on ancient ocean dunes with fine sandy soil.  It drains well but is short on nutrients and organic matter.  For the plant selection we considered low water use, natives, and fire resistance.   Decomposed Granite pathways wind throughout the half acre property with benches at different view points of  Morro Bay and a “slice” of the ocean.


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