2014 Marin County Open Garden Day: Jardín Mar Centro

It seems that for the last week I’ve been doing nothing but writing posts about my recent garden visits. I hope you’ll enjoy them. If not, I’ll be back to writing about my own garden soon enough. (Plus you’ll be a spared a rant about the 104°F we had today here in Davis, CA aka the City of All Things Right and Relevant.)

Last Saturday, just as this miniature heat wave was getting going, I toured three gardens in Marin County. Marin County, as you may remember from previous years (2013 | 2012) is a very wealthy county separated from San Francisco by the Golden Gate Bridge. As a whole, Marin County has a climate that is just about perfect, with relatively cool summers (compared to the heat we often have inland) and nearly frost-free winters. Even though the water situation is no better than elsewhere in California, the gardens there seem to be lusher and more tropical than what you’re likely to see here in the Sacramento Valley.


My first stop on Saturday was in Tiburon, one of the most beautiful (almost impossibly scenic!) places in Marin County. Listed as “Jardín Mar Centro” in the Garden Conservancy Open Days Directory, this garden was described thusly:

Most of the time, thousands of blossoms unfold through this garden. Roses are the foundation of the garden, and the entry area plantings are changed with each season. Some garden areas are devoted to camellias that grow as part of a small maze. Dozens of orange and lemon trees dot the garden. Other interest comes from olive trees, a chef’s garden and a redwood “rain forest” (the rain is turned off for the duration of the drought.) A Zen fountain - designed and built by the owner - “floats” stones in three water jets causing the spray pattern to vary infinitely (hence the name of the fountain.) There is also a large succulent garden and beautiful Bay views.


If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you have a fairly good idea of what gardening styles I’m drawn to. This is not one of them. I guess you could call it a cottage garden—except on a grand scale, considering this ½ acre property is valued at $5.5 million on Zillow. But after spending 45 minutes in this garden, my brain was so fried from visual overload, I was ready for a session in a sensory deprivation tank.

The best thing I can say about this garden is that I ran into a Succulents and More reader from Berkeley. I don’t want to give his name—some people prefer to remain anonymous—but I loved his wittiness. He thought the homeowner had gone to a local nursery and bought up their entire stock of flowering plants. Take a look at these photos and let me know what you think.









Lounge chairs covered with turf grass! Why oh why?




Yes, these are all succulents, but is it necessary to cram one representative of each genus into your garden? (Ooops, look who’s talking!)





Yes, tomatoes and summer squash, too!


This is the “rain forest.” OK, it’s just three redwood trees, but who’s counting…

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I will say that I absolutely loved the hardscaping here and in other parts of the garden. The combination of stepping stones and groundcovers was fantastic.




A red Abyssinian banana (Ensete ventricosum ‘Maurelii’) next to the redwood grove. Bananas and redwoods? Oh what the heck, why not?






More beautiful stonework





The Upper Rose Garden

I shouldn’t be snarky. Just because this is not my taste, it doesn’t make it any less valid—or any better or worse than what I like. It’s clear that the homeowners are very proud of their garden, so all that’s left for me to say is “thank you for inviting me.”

And I’m glad that somebody is keeping the local garden centers and landscapers busy.



  1. That's quite a profusion of color! It might be a bit much for such a large garden, but then diversity in gardens is the spice of life!

    And OMG the heat wave! It should not be 92 deg F before 9am, even in the desert! Hope your garden is making it through OK.

    1. I've been giving my potted plants extra water. I'll check later to see if everything is fine. We're supposed to drop below 100°F today. Yeah!

  2. The stonework is beautiful. The garden on the whole is so neat and well arranged.

    1. Not only was the stonework beautifully executed, the design was fantastic too. And there was not a spent flower or dead leaf seen in the garden. That in itself is quite a feat.

  3. Bright masses of floral madness and heuchera/coleus overload aside there are elements of this garden I like. The hardscape, the very "greenness" of some of your shots. Heck the banana and the redwoods even work for me (I'd have the same combo in my garden). I don't even hate the turf on the lounge chairs, although I do hate that they felt the need to rope them off. Ruins the look of something that should be fun.

    1. I agree, the entire garden was an explosion of green. Even the succulent garden looks extravagantly lush. In light of the extreme drought we're having, I felt very uncomfortable in a garden that is so out of place with reality. But then, gardens are a fantasy, an escape from reality.

      Still, this one was a tough one for me to like.

    2. You're right of course, about the drought. So easy for my eyes (used to the green) to overlook.

  4. Some elements of this garden are nice, and these elements taken in isolation are inspiring, like the stone pathways etc.

    Have to say, seeing all those bright colours in the first few pics made me crave for Skittles....


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