Piece of Eden truly is a slice of paradise (part 1)

The first destination on my recent trip to Southern California was a slice of succulent paradise: a Piece of Eden, one might say. Many of you will recognize the name: Piece of Eden is Hoover Boo's popular blog about her garden in Orange County. If you've followed Piece of Eden over the years, you know how much work has gone into transforming what could have been a typical (i.e. boring) suburban garden into a showcase for water-wise plants. Yes, there are many succulents, but Hoover Boo also gravitates towards plants from other Mediterranean climate zones around the world, including shrubs from South Africa and Australia. Her plant palette is so much in line with my own taste that I'd like to think, somewhat grandiosely maybe, that my garden would look much like hers if I lived in the same climate (zone 10a, no frost to speak of).

What curb appeal! My shoebox of a car notwithstanding.

But the ½ acre property didn't always look like that. When Hoover and her husband, known to readers of her blog as Beloved, bought the house 17+ years ago, there was bare dirt. Over years of hard work, they created the lush yet water-efficient landscaping you see today.

I took so many photos so that I will split this post into two parts. This part covers the driveway, the back, and the front garden inside the wall. Part 2 will be about the succulent showcase along the street.

Let's start with the plantings to the left of the driveway:

Aloidendron 'Hercules'. The agaves behind it are Agave desmettiana 'Joe Hoak'.
You'll see many of them all over the garden.

Grevillea 'Superb' flowers year round in Orange County's gentle climate.

Look at how lush this Dymondia margaretae "lawn" is!

Phylica pubescens, another beauty from South Africa

Awesome combo: Aloe brevifolia and hairy canary clover (Dorycnium hirsutum)

Aloe 'Rooikappie' and Agave desmettiana 'Joe Hoak'

One of the newest and most coveted grevillea introductions: Grevillea 'King's Fire'

More Agave desmettiana 'Joe Hoak'. Hoover has dozens of offsets from her original plant that are now adults themselves.

Agave formerly known as gypsophila, now Agave pablocarrilloi. This is a variegated selection sold as 'Ivory Curls'.

This photo gives you a better view of the steep slope on the west side of the driveway. The agave on the right is Agave marmorata.

Early morning view from the balcony of the guest room. I'd love to wake up to this every day!

Grevillea 'Superb'

This is the gate to the front courtyard:

Hoover is a rose lover, and while she's removed many of the years, there are still quite a few left

Euphorbia tirucalli 'Sticks on Fire'

Aeonium 'Zwartkop' and Sedum morganum in a nook by the front door

Dymondia margaretae filling in between flagstones. Such a simple design, yet so elegant.

Another Aloidendron 'Hercules'

Same tree aloe just after sunrise

Nice place to sit in the front courtyard, right across from the front door

Protea cynaroides 'Mini King'

Graptoveria 'Fred Ives'

On to the areas behind the house: 

This is another photo of the west slope. I found it hard to accurately capture how steep it is. Water would run right off, but Hoover has added plenty of mulch to slow down the runoff.

Grevillea 'Peaches and Cream'

Aloe thraskii and Aloe pseudorubroviolacea

Aloe hardyi × cameronii

Back of the house

Looking towards the west slope. The aloe is the Aloe thraskii from the photo above.

Agave attenuata 'Kara's Stripe' or 'Kara's Choice'

Agave attenuata 'Variegata'

Koi pond outside the living room

I had a hard time getting a good photo of the koi. They always swam away from me.

The fern growing in the planter on top of this wall was a volunteer that arrived on the wind. What a serendipitous coincidence!
A particularly nicely colored flap-jack plant (Kalanchoe luciae). I received one as a gift in the fall and have vowed to use in more places in my own garden.

Cheerful tapestry of bush marigold (Tagetes lemonii) and a Coprosma 'Pacific Sunrise' reverting to green, like many intensely colored  coprosmas

Aeonium 'Kiwi' rooting in what used to the be the vegetable garden

Such a California thing: oranges and Graptoveria 'Fred Ives'

Another sunrise photo 

A finally a few photos of yours truly and the real masters of the house, Samoyeds Natasha and Boris:

Click here to go to part 2.



  1. Very pretty! And how nice to see your view of this beautiful garden. Your trip looks awesome!

  2. Great timing to visit while so many of the aloes are in bloom. It's fascinating to see Hoover's garden from your unique perspective; makes me think all we bloggers should visit and record other bloggers' gardens, just for the fun of the contrast.

    1. I agree! You can learn so much seeing your own garden through somebody else's eyes!

  3. Fun to see the garden through another lens. I love that last sunrise photo. Thank you!

    1. It felt like the photos took themselves, I was just the guy holding the camera. I'm more inspired than ever!

  4. This is great Gerhard ! I remember just what it was like to visit Lorees garden for the 1st time,and how familiar it all seemed, and I'm sure this was no different.Same for your garden after so many virtual visits. I love your new perspectives too-and it looks like Boris and Natasha were very happy to see you !

    1. It was funny, I always thought Hoov's house was on the left side of the street, not on the right. And when I visited Kris, I thought her lathe house was behind the house instead of in front. Weird how you form these impressions in your head!

  5. I always love seeing broad views of HB's spectacular garden and you captured it well. Her garden is what I can only hope mine may resemble when it matures - HB has a 10 year head start on me so my fingers are crossed.

    HB, I fear the Dorycnium is going to swallow those aloes! (Although I do love the combination.)

    1. I know exactly what you mean. There are so many mature plants. I keep overhauling my garden so who knows when mine will ever be mature!

      Love that hairy canary clover. The combo with Aloe brevifolia is great, and I'm sure the clover is easy to keep in check. I'm hoping!

  6. Had I not visited a year ago I would be green with envy! Now instead I just enjoyed every single photo and the memories they brought. What a garden!

  7. Hoov B has such a great eye for plants, and keeps them so radiantly healthy and happy. Dogs, too :-) Great photos, Gerhard, and what a dream of a Southern California garden. (How on earth does she keep the koi safe from raccoons?)

    1. She has an excellent eye and wonderful intuition. I have learned so much from her.

  8. What a fabulous post, you lucky dog! I especially liked seeing how the koi pond is situated. And more to come? Swoon.

    1. I didn't have a clear idea of that part of the garden either. I meant to take more photos the next morning but I lost track of time photographing the front of the house. Before I knew it, it was time to head out (and Natasha and Boris wanted some love, too).

  9. You really captured what a great plantswoman she is in trialing the toughest/most gorgeous plants out there. Love the vantage point of the first photo.

    Luisa -- I asked Hoov the very same question about keeping the koi safe. I believe the koi are safe because raccoons can't negotiate very straight-sided ponds. They like an incline to wade in, and Hoov's pond is steep and straight.

    1. Hoov is so modest but in reality she's a wealth of knowledge. Her blog (just like yours) has enrichted my gardening life immensely.

    2. Denise, thank you for that info!

  10. Thanks especially for the wide shots of this incredible garden. Hoov is a treasure as is her "Piece of Eden!"

    1. My pleasure, Peter! I often forget wide shots of my own garden, but they are really useful for readers to get a better idea of the lay of the land.


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