Monday, January 8, 2018

Piece of Eden truly is a slice of paradise (part 2)

Piece of Eden is one of my favorite gardening blogs. It chronicles the evolution of Hoover Boo's garden in Orange County where you can grow just about anything without having to worry about frost.

The limiting factor in the Southland is water, or rather the lack of it. Remember the 1970s Albert Hammond song "It Never Rains in Southern California?" It's certainly no less true today. That's why mixing Mediterranean climate plants—not only from the Mediterranean Basin but also from South Africa and Australia—with succulents makes eminent sense. Hoover Boo has been on the leading edge of that movement for years, and her garden is a shining example of how utterly beautiful this fusion can be.

As I mentioned in part 1, I had the good fortune of visiting Piece of Eden at the end of December, and I snapped hundreds of photos. In this post I'll show you the plantings along the street—what Hoover Boo calls the "front slope" in her blog. When I saw this botanical wonderland, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. I now want my own slope so I can replicate this. Plant tapestries only look this good on an incline; otherwise the plants in the back tend to recede into the background.

My eyes were jumping all over the place, trying to take everything in all at once. The photos below aren't quite as random but they're not completely sequential either because I was trying to alternate wider shots with close-ups.

The combinations of textures and colors are breathtaking

I did visit at the perfect time since most aloes were in bloom. The Yucca recurvifolia 'Bright Star' are a welcome pop of yellow in a sea of greens, blues, reds and purple.

Grayish blue Agave parryi var. truncata, greenish red Aloe cameronii, and greenish yellow Yucca recurvifolia 'Bright Star'

Agave parryi var. truncata and Agave lophantha 'Quadricolor'

Agave lophantha 'Quadricolor' and Aloe 'Blue Elf'—both offset prolifically

Agave stricta

Succulent heaven!

This massive agave is Agave marmorata, planted from a 4" container

Aloidendron 'Hercules, Agave marmorata, and Yucca recurvifolia 'Bright Star'

Aloidendron 'Hercules' and Aloe marlothii (no flowers yet)

Senicio mandraliscae and Aloe 'Cynthia Giddy'

Aloe aff. megalacantha (green), Aloe 'Cynthia Giddy' (red)

Flowering Agave desmettiana 'Joe Hoak'; the dried flower stalk behind them is from Dasylirion longissimum

Flowering Agave desmettiana 'Joe Hoak'

Aloe ferox, white-flowered form

The bluish white agave is Agave titanota. The grayish shrub on the right is a Texas ranger (Leucophyllum frutescens).

Agave titanota (white), with a green form of Aloe 'Felipe Otero' (related) on the lower left

Agave 'White Ice'; a choice selection of Agave titanota or 'Felipe Otero' (the taxonomy battle rages on)

Agave ovatifolia sheltered by a leucospermum

The yellow-flowering aloe is Aloe vanbalenii

Aloe vanbalenii (red) in a sea of agaves

The same flowering Agave 'Joe Hoak' you saw above, this time backlit against the afternoon sun

Aloe vanbalenii

Aloe 'Blue Glow'

Most of these 'Blue Glow' were 4" pots from Native Sons Nursery

Flowering 'Blue Glow' growing offsets from the center. Hoover says these are typically not viable, in contrast to the regular offsets from the base.

Agave 'Blue Glow' looks particarly dramatic when backlit

The fuzzy-looking green stems behind the agave belong to a Madasgar ocotillo (Alluaudia procera)

Aloe capitata

Another Dasylirion flower stalk

Lots of spiky yuccas, including Yucca queretaroenis (bottom left), Yucca linearifolia (behind it) and Yucca rostrata 'Sapphire Skies' (to the right of Y. linearifolia)

Two agant giants: Agave marmorata (top) close to its final size, Agave guiengola (bottom) still growing

Hoover Boo's garden continues to be a major source of inspiration for me, and I'm already looking forward to visiting again down the line.



  1. So gorgeous! It's almost not real... Hoover's garden is a source of inspiration for many people!

    1. It's a sanctuary in the best sense of the world. I felt like I was far away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

  2. It's great to see these wonderful broad views of HB's glorious garden. It's beautiful year-round but the winter views including the blooming aloes are really special.

    1. Imagine how dreary our winters would be without blooming aloes!

  3. Great post Gerhard, and it's great to see a different perspective on the garden all of Hoovs' readers know so well. She is obviously has a talent for design.

    1. Talent in spades! And she has a wealth of plant knowledge to boot.

  4. Gorgeous garden and photos. Her neighbors are so lucky!

    1. I hope they know what a treasure Hoov's garden is--and how it improves the curb appeal of the entire court.

  5. Really nice garden, the slope really does make everything stand out. I noticed one error in names, it’s Aloe ‘Cynthia Giddy’ not Gitty. 🤓

  6. No doubt about it, slope plantings of succulents rock! It's useful to see how big some of these Agaves and Aloe can get, my biggest mistake with them is underestimating their mature sizes. Thanks for sharing these photos.

    1. I used to plant with mature sizes in mind but that often makes for very sparsely planted area. Now I overplant, knowing full well that I need to move things around down the line. After all, I need something to keep me busy :-).

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  8. Fantastic! Love seeing this through a different eye, and in more volume than any modest gardener would provide. :)

    Loved seeing some of the new angles provided in part 1 too!

    1. As others have said, it can be an eye-opener seeing your own garden through somebody else's lens.

  9. Love this garden and that gorgeous house. It was a joy to see both through your lens!

  10. Wow! What a memorable visit, Gerhard. And of course your photos are magnificent as always.Thanks for sharing!

    1. I love sharing my experiences. For me, that's half the fun.