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By Eric Heinz and Freda D’Souza

Each year, the San Clemente Garden Club hosts a garden tour of some of the most vivid and lush residential horticultural displays in the city.
Some of the themes that have dominated at the last two years have been how the gardens conserve water and incorporate drought-tolerant plants, with some going as far as complete xeriscaping.
The tour takes place Saturday, May 20. Tickets are $30 each if you order in advance at and $35 the day of the tour, cash or check only.
The descriptions of the gardens were provided by the San Clemente Garden Club.

Mear Garden
800 Block of Calle Vallarta

This Spanish-style home sits on a two-acre lot overlooking both San Clemente and Catalina Island. From the curb-side view, there are drought-tolerant plants as well as the Mexican Blue palms, a pepper tree, a Palo Verde tree, eucalyptus and pine trees. Palm trees and b0anana palms surround the rock pool and Jacuzzi. There are two large palapas with beautiful tile counter tops, perfect for serving a crowd. One is set up with a barbecue, stove and grill and the other they call their tiki bar. This is a great home and garden for entertaining guests. The backyard lawn was recently replaced with drought-tolerant plants, Mexican Blue palms, sago and Mediterranean fan palms that accent the entertainment areas. Ground-cover roses and bougainvillea border the putting green. A verdant slope frames the yard. While viewing this garden, you might feel like you are at a resort in Hawaii.
Smith Garden
2500 Block of Via Durazno

This garden is a fun, eclectic yard brimming with a variety of interesting settings, including a tiki hut on the hillside surrounded by tropical plants, a rose garden, lounge areas by the pool and a tucked-away bar and herb garden. Some specimens in the yard include a Lebombo cycad above the family’s sign, and the large staghorn fern hanging from the Queen Palm below the hut and the queen sago in the planter beside the pool. The front yard was recently re-done with water wise plants like euphorbia flanaganii (on the corner that looks like an underwater creature) and the tall plant at the front that is just plain freaky looking. The owner has designed, planted and built the garden himself and has done so for more than 23 years, creatively transforming a standard tract home yard into a warm, lush paradise enjoyed by family and friends. The design represents how the family lives: active and connected to nature, friends and family. Last summer, the garden was the venue for their son’s wedding.
Yoder Garden
2400 Block of Calle Madiera

This Mediterranean garden has been a work in progress for 17 years. When you follow the Mexican pavers, they lead the way through the front yard garden lined with palm trees and succulent-filled clay pots. Found objects collected at the beach like rocks, shells and drift wood add interest to the lush planters. Notice the orchids and ferns that line the walkway as you approach the entrance to the backyard. Pass through a creative mosaic archway which leads to three outdoor living spaces for entertaining and relaxing. The flagstone patio and outdoor fireplace with mosaic opening is surrounded by more palms and succulents. Climb the spiral staircase to the upper deck to take in the garden from above and a view of the ocean. Breathe in the salt air and relax.

Dittmar Garden
100 Block of W. Avenida de Los Lobos Marinos

This mid-century modern home is situated on a coastal arroyo in southwest San Clemente. The front yard landscape is designed to complement the angular lines of the home’s architecture, with low boxwood hedges, topiaries and an expansive green lawn. Seasonal color brings the formal lines to life in spring and summer. The lot is dynamic in elevation, which allows the lawn and perimeter plantings to gently slope toward the back. Be sure to view the manmade stream that runs from the front of the house to the koi pond in back. The formal rose garden along with several fruit trees in the side yard provide beauty and bounty for this gardener. From the outdoor dining area, deck and wood gazebo, there is a view of the arroyo and its natural beauty.

Photo Gallery

Wurn-Christensen Garden
300 Block of Calle Descanso

This garden rests in the coastal hills that began as a blank canvas in 1996 and has become a country garden with formal elements.

After viewing the colorful front yard garden, complete with an iron gazebo adorned with eden roses, an antique sundial, sitting area and plant propagation bench, wander through the five arches of roses leading to the backyard. A cottage-style fence surrounds a small vegetable garden. Among the many roses the owner adores, there are citrus and avocado trees and a white fig tree. An antique urn, a family heirloom, is displayed prominently. Be sure to notice the many statues in and around the garden that were collected during 30 years. The relaxing garden rooms and sitting areas are perfect for a morning coffee or evening glass of wine. The little cabana and several vintage iron tables provide the perfect spot for family meals, entertaining and just relaxing after a long day tending the garden. Young and old alike enjoy the swing set along the side yard. The garden is complete with 11 small water features, a plethora of scented plants and a hillside of Italian cypresses.

A plethora of scented plants. A hillside row of Italian cypresses that make you feel like you are somewhere else, somewhere wonderful.

A swing set in the garden reminds adults of their childhood. A little cabana for morning coffee or a glass of wine after a long day of tending the garden. An antique urn that was the owner’s great-grandfather’s and many vintage iron tables are placed throughout the garden for an impromptu alfresco meal, even a hidden propagation area for starting seedlings and nurturing plants even a secret meditation spot.

It is a country garden with formal elements, and a cottage garden with more Mediterranean plants than traditional English ones. Many birds and bees bring animation to the garden.

Schrader Front Yard Garden

100 Block W. Avenida de Los Lobos Marinos

Take the stairs to the top of this terraced front yard. Stop for a minute at the dining table, then head down the stone steps side planted with succulents, grasses, aloes, mature palms and lavender. Enjoy the mermaid fountain and sit a while on the bench shaded by a very productive lemon tree. Continue your journey down to the chairs that face the ocean with a view of the arroyo. Notice the unique garden art that completes this peaceful picture and inviting front yard.

Hannan Front Yard Garden

100 Block of W. Avenida de Los Lobos Marinos

A picket fence and rose-covered arbor welcome visitors to the front yard. Seasonal colors create curb appeal with iceberg roses and delphiniums that brighten this cottage garden. Here, topiary deer share space with a quaint rabbit hutch condo. Birds swoop in for a quick dip in the stone birdbath set in the garden along with a giant rabbit dressed for spring. A variety of fragrant roses lead the way to the shady front porch—complete with a bench and colorful hanging baskets.

Editor’s note: Freda D’Souza is the public information officer of the San Clemente Garden Club.

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