The article you’re about to read is from our reporters doing their important work — investigating, researching, and writing their stories. We want to provide informative and inspirational stories that connect you to the people, issues and opportunities within our community. Journalism requires lots of resources. Today, our business model has been interrupted by the pandemic; the vast majority of our advertisers’ businesses have been impacted. That’s why the SC Times is now turning to you for financial support. Learn more about our new Insider’s program here. Thank you.

Visit beautiful private gardens in South Orange County at the annual self-guided San Clemente Garden Tour on Saturday, May 18, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Tickets for the tour include access to five private gardens, complimentary “tasty bites” prepared by local food purveyors, and live music by Velvet Bow Strings Duo, Jess V. Mayers and Doduo.

The tour will take place rain or shine; no refunds will be provided. Gardens may be visited in any order, with flutter flags and signage heralding each location.

“Each garden in San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano selected for the 2019 tour delivers ideas and inspiration for all of us who love to create beautiful gardens and wonderful memories spent exploring delightful outdoor spaces and enjoying delicious food,” said Teresa Whitney, President of the San Clemente Garden Club.

Visitors explore a backyard garden at a home in San Juan Capistrano. /Photo by Freda D’Souza
Visitors explore a backyard garden at a home in San Juan Capistrano. /Photo by Freda D’Souza

Tour proceeds support scholarships, school gardens, civic beautification and conservation organizations.

Two gardens on this year’s tour are located in the Shorecliffs and Pacific Shores communities in San Clemente, while three others are in the Los Corrales community of San Juan Capistrano.

Food tastings will be available at each garden, provided by Always Inn San Clemente Bed & Breakfast, Always Spice Catering, Avila’s El Ranchito Restaurants, Café Rae, The Fuel Shack, Sprouts Farmers Market and Sugar Blossom Bake Shop.

Gardens are not wheelchair-accessible or suitable for small children. Wear comfortable shoes.

The San Clemente Garden Club, a charitable organization founded in 1951, is part of the California Garden Clubs, Inc. and National Garden Clubs, Inc. The group meets on the first Wednesday of each month.

Advance tickets are available through May 17 for $30 each or four tickets for $100. Order advance tickets at and pay with credit card or download the ticket form and pay by mail.  For ticket information contact Bette Langford at 949.498.3317. Or email:  Tickets can be purchased for $40 each on tour day at the “will call” station located at 27861 Via Estancia, San Juan Capistrano.

A succulent wall garden in San Juan Capistrano. Photo by Freda D’Souza
A succulent wall garden in San Juan Capistrano. Photo by Freda D’Souza

Here is information about each garden on the 2019 tour provided by Freda D’Souza, volunteer publicity chair for the Garden Club and the annual garden tour:

Shorecliffs Community, San Clemente

After moving to San Clemente three years ago, the homeowners determined that they needed a casita for a parent. That led them to begin a complete redesign of the front yard and courtyard with the help of a landscape designer. They began changing this area from a rose garden to a contemporary style landscape in the fall of 2017. The transformation included adding drought tolerant plants, Swan Hill olive trees, colorful plants and vines, and a stunning living plant wall.  The leap of faith to realize the new design began with demolition of the existing landscape. Soon it was discovered that there were several generations of landscaping to remove including a built-in swimming pool. As their project continued, the landscape designer refined his ideas and soon they were adding a one-of-a-kind courtyard fence, as well as more planters and more plant materials to the backyard. Six months later the homeowners had the garden of their dreams with a pond, water features and landscape lighting. A covered patio provides additional dining area facing Shorecliffs Golf Course. Trees in the yard provide guavas, oranges and lemons and the fishpond is currently home to 17 fish. Water features make the garden serene and inviting for gardening, relaxing, and entertaining friends and family.

Pacific Shores Community, San Clemente

When approaching this home, one immediately senses that walking among native California foliage inspired these homeowners.  This drought tolerant and easy to maintain landscape is made more inviting by its non-symmetrical design and variety of plants, such as the pepper and camphor trees that anchor the garden’s design. The homeowners worked with a natural swale in the front and transformed it to a rock creek that acts as a natural drainage feature in rainy season, especially needed with the rains this year.  A footpath meanders to a backyard that provides spectacular views of Catalina and Dana Point Harbor.  By hardscaping the entire area, the owners have been able to provide multiple seating and dining spaces, including an elevated intimate dining area and a covered patio space.  The easy care backyard features a variety of planters, large and small, which allow the homeowners to “play” with seasonal and annual plants such as jasmine and tea roses. On exiting this garden, note the side yard, also a sloped area, which is held up with a uniquely designed retaining wall and stabilized with mature trees.  This garden is definitely designed for entertaining and relaxing while enjoying the sunsets over the Pacific Ocean.

Los Corrales, San Juan Capistrano

Since purchasing the residence more than three years ago, the family has replaced much of the grass and plantings with drought tolerant plant species.  The vast, pie-shaped, sloped lot supports several agave and Echeveria in the front yard. The stairs on the right side of the home leading down to the backyard are flanked by a well-established coral tree embellished with a thriving superbum Elkhorn fern.  The backyard creates a welcoming environment for the active, animal-loving family, with dogs, a parrot and several hens.  The large queen and date palms in combination with birds of paradise create a tropical feel while boxwood-lined beds provide a sense of structure.  The backyard looks out across the valley with Saddleback Mountain in the distance.  Recently planted dwarf citrus trees, including Satsuma mandarin, navel orange and Meyer lemon, are interspersed between French lavender plants along the perimeter of the slope.  The pinnacle feature of the backyard is a custom, walk-in chicken run and coop housing five different fowl varieties that provide an endless supply of eggs for the family and their neighbors.  Behind the coop is a small raised vegetable garden that delivers year-round edibles for both the family and their feathered friends.  This inviting family yard has become a much-appreciated environment for family entertainment, relaxation and play.

An example of a drought tolerant garden. Photo by Freda D’Souza
An example of a drought tolerant garden. Photo by Freda D’Souza

Los Corrales, San Juan Capistrano

Mature flowering trees border the entrance to this water-wise garden. Neighbors often gather to chat on this couple’s lovely front yard patio while admiring the Golden Rain Tree. The gardens surrounding this home were designed to delight the senses. While in the backyard, stroll beneath a canopy of Mayten trees on a light dappled, rustic path that connects secluded seating areas. Even on the hottest days, there’s always a spot where the outdoor temperature is perfect to sit and enjoy a beverage along with a bountiful fresh harvest from the organic fruit and vegetable gardens. But the curious guest can never sit for very long. A splash of color or the faint scent of a flower prompts one to explore. Groups of equestrians can be spotted among giant pepper trees. Furred, feathered and winged neighbors also find shelter and their favorite cuisine in this garden. Butterflies rest on the ledge of the pond while hummingbirds flit through an inviting fountain. Nearby a pair of Cooper’s Hawks routinely call to each other while on patrol. Each Sunday, the ringing of the historic bells at nearby Mission San Juan Capistrano accompany the songs of the plethora of birds that visit this garden.  The magic of this garden is that is lively and dynamic, and equally peaceful and tranquil.

Los Corrales, San Juan Capistrano

After years of gardening and raising a family, this homeowner decided to become a flower farmer and sprouted Blomma Flower Farm.  The cottage she shares with her husband sits on a large lot within walking distance of T-Street beach in San Clemente. Last year they jumped in with both feet and converted the property to a small-scale flower farm, terracing the front yard into straight rows and exchanging vegetable garden space in the back for flowerbeds.  Even the old shed was converted to a cozy floral design workshop to create wedding and special event arrangements. Along with her floral design business, the homeowner grows and sells flowers to wholesalers in Carlsbad, many of which are started from seeds and grown organically. Almost everything on the property is used for floral arranging, whether flowers, greenery or vines.  A fruit and vegetable garden is behind the flower patch in the back yard, where a large long-established Tangelo tree still produces delicious fruit in winter. There are passion fruit and blackberry vines, peach, apple, blood orange and lime trees, as well as seasonal vegetables and fruit. While the vegetable garden is her husband’s domain, this homeowner routinely utilizes fruits and vegetables in her design work. Expect to experience a real working micro-farm; and learn about the challenges and special opportunities that are integral to micro farming by the sea in the southernmost town in Orange County.


Trustworthy, accurate and reliable local news stories are more important now than ever. Support our newsroom by making a contribution and becoming a subscribing member today.

About The Author Staff

comments (0)

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>