I did it again. I made a new friend because of our mutual love of gardening. I met Van at my friend Rose’s house a few times a while back, but not until Van found out from Rose what a big gardener I am did we connect and reach out to each other.
Through Rose, Van invited me to come and see her garden and give her advice on an area that she was looking at re-doing a couple of years ago. I had no idea what to expect, I was of course honored and excited to be giving some gardening tips. I happily agreed, and Rose and I went together to Van’s home for tea one day.
What a wonderful surprise I was in for. Here I thought it was a small garden that needed some humble new ideas, but what I saw blew me away. Van’s garden is spectacular. It rivals any Wine Country garden. It’s huge, and it has everything a gardener like me would love. Van’s home and garden is right out of a magazine.
She has a beautiful rose garden with hundreds of rose bushes in all varieties and colors. Gorgeous climbing roses trail over her side door and fences.
Van’s garden has a shady area where hydrangeas grow in profusion. Huge oak trees border the property. A dry creek runs through one side of the garden. There is also an area that showcases beautiful ornamental grasses, a lawn area, and a huge swimming pool with a beautiful patio that has wisteria growing over the trellis. Lavender and rosemary bushes flank the pathways.
Gorgeous works of garden art and pottery are dotted throughout Van’s garden. She said her husband Ting and her pick up art pieces from their travels – very cool I thought.
There is a large vegetable garden with huge raised beds for growing as many vegetables as one could want.
Ground cover plants grow in-between beautiful flagstone as you meander through her garden and explore the property, and trees in all shapes and colors dot the landscape.
At the center of her driveway there is a natural waterfall that is surrounded by trees and drought tolerant plants, bushes, and flowers that have self-seeded into a lush wildflower garden here, giving even the circular driveway a focal point.
Benches placed strategically all over the garden encourage people to sit and relax. Large boulders are strewn here and there to make it look natural and not like a formal European garden. This is Wine Country style gardening at it’s best. And right here in our neighborhood. What advice could I possibly give a gardener and garden that had everything already?
There were a couple of contributions I was able to make. Since Van loves wildflowers and plants that self-seed, I encouraged her to create a wild flower garden in a large grassy area that she was looking at re-doing. She thought that was a great idea and is considering it. I also introduced her to succulent gardening and the fun of making your own cuttings. I am very proud of that because honestly, Van’s garden has everything any gardener like me could wish for. So these little tips of mine were a very small contribution to her already spectacular landscape. But Van was thrilled and excited to receive this advice from me.
The next thing I know I am invited a month later to check out her succulent garden – and guess what? It is a succulent garden that is a showcase for succulent gardening. Succulents in all colors and sizes in beautiful pots spill over the steps on her patio. She had them tucked under trees, and she even had succulents in herb pots – which I thought was very creative.
Van made a bunch of succulent cuttings on her potting bench to transplant to her garden, and to give to friends. Van said I could take whatever cutting I wanted – I took a bunch – I was greedy. But I can’t resist it when anyone offers me a plant, and that too from their own garden. In typical Van style she took a small idea and made it amazing.
As for the wildflower garden. I am sure it will turn out better than expected if that’s what she decides to do. With native plants and wildflowers a plenty, and a pathway that runs through the proposed wildflower garden, this is one area that I am sure under Van’s guidance will transport us to a wild California coutryside; or a vineyard of grapevines which is the other design consideration for this area of her garden.
Van is a wonderful, generous, strong, confident, and kind person. Van and her husband Ting love to open their home and garden for their friends. They host spring lunch gatherings, outdoor movie nights, New year’s Eve party, and invite friends with any reason to get us to come over to their place. And in typical Ting and Van style, their place is always warm and welcoming; with lots of food, conversations, and best of all – their spectacular surroundings – their garden.
Van’s garden will rival any Wine Country garden. It’s the perfect balance of casual elegance, eclectic mix of plants and architecture, and full of interesting and wonderful plants and flowers.