Piece of Eden: a plant paradise in Southern California

Everybody deserves their own slice of paradise, wherever and whatever it may be. That's why visiting a fellow gardener who has found theirs is such a treat for me.

A few weeks ago when I was in Southern California for my daughter's university orientation I had the pleasure of hanging out with Hoover Bo, the creative mind behind one my favorite gardening blogs, the aptly named Piece of Eden. Yes, Hoover Boo has created her own paradise, a peaceful sanctuary that seems to exist apart from the world outside.

I first visited Piece of Eden in December 2017 and wrote a two-part post about it (1 | 2). Needless to say the garden looks different in the summer—other plants are in bloom, for one thing. But even without a single flower, Piece of Eden would be dazzling because of the enormous variety of shapes and textures.

Hoover Boo gardens on a ½ acre in Southern California that combines level areas with slopes, both in the front and the back of the property. For someone like me who has always lived in level places any kind of elevation change is a wondrous thing. I'm sure the reality isn't quite as glamorous, but Hoover Boo and her husband, Beloved, have solved their terrain challenges brilliantly.

Starting out, here is the wider view of the immediate neighborhood. Hoover's front yard is on the left; the house you see is their next-door neighbor. And check out the hills in the distance: all of that is undeveloped land protected within the borders of a regional park. Sights like that are becoming rare in the most densely populated part of California.

The massive inflorescence of a flowering Agave marmorata is a beacon that is impossible to miss
The front yard showcases succulents in all their diversity:

Dasylirions, yuccas and agaves

Agave marmorata towering over Agave guiengola, with Agave parryi var. truncata on the left

The flower stalk of this Agave marmorata is impressive

Just as impressive: the succulent tapestry around it

Wider view of Agave marmorata inflorescence with humans for scale

Agave marmorata

Agave marmorata and Dasylirion longissimum duking it out in the size department. The agave wins this battle, but it'll be dead next year while the dasylirion will happily go on flowering year after year.

Dasylirion longissimum, with Grevillea 'Moonlight' and Aloidendron 'Hercules' behind it

Aloidendron 'Hercules' towering over Yucca 'Bright Star' and its neighbors

Speaking of Yucca 'Bright Star', it sure is a looker, even more so when massed together like that

The white-flowering shrub is Grevillea 'Moonlight', a very happy bloomer

This flowering aloe...

...is the spectacular Aloe dhufarensis from Oman and Yemen. It's in the process of outgrowing some unsightly black spots caused by a fungal infection that started in our wetter-than-usual winter.

Agave titanota, the real thing (with Agave parrasana on the right)

Now we're at the top of the property, looking at Hoover Boo's house from the sidewalk:

Another Aloidendron 'Hercules', a handful of Agave desmettiana 'Joe Hoak, as well as grevilleas and leucadendrons tied together by a carpet of Dymondia margaretae: picture-book perfect (and water-wise to boot).

Notice the large agave at the top: that's another Agave marmorata, one of the largest agave species

Agave desmettiana 'Joe Hoak'

The property extends up this steep slope to the hedge. This hillside is what Hoover refers to as the "west slope" on Piece of Eden.

Grevillea 'Superb' is a non-stop bloomer...

...and a bee magnet

Aloidendron 'Hercules'

Agave desmettiana 'Joe Hoak' and Adenanthos cuneatus 'Coral Drift', a graceful shrub from the south coast of Western Australia (more info here). Unfortunately, it really wants to live in a coastal climate; I've tried to grow it in my decidedly non-coastal garden and failed.

Agave mitis 'Nova' (and another 'Joe Hoak' in the background)

The Agave marmorata on the west slope, with another Grevillea 'Superb'

Now we're in the courtyard in front of the garage, behind the wooden gates you saw in the photo earlier.

LEFT: Eucalyptus 'Moon Lagoon'

TOP LEFT: Aloe thraskii  FRONT CENTER: Aloe pseudorubroviolacea (and a brilliant Bougainvillea on the right)

LEFT TO RIGHT: Eucalyptus  'Moon Lagoon', Maireana sedifolia, Aloe thraskiiAloe pseudorubroviolacea

The floral standout in the garage-side courtyard is the Mexican tulip poppy (Hunnemannia fumariifolia). I don't know how closely related it is to the California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), if at all, but it looks quite similar, albeit with more yellow flowers and more glaucous (bluish) leaves.

Hunnemannia fumariifolia

Hunnemannia fumariifolia with Russelia equisetiformis

Hunnemannia fumariifolia with Agave salmiana var. ferox 'Mediopicta'

Hunnemannia fumariifolia with Agave 'Blue Glow'

Now we're back in front of the house. The gate on the left is where we came from (the courtyard where the Mexican tulip poppies are). We're now going to walk through the low gate on the right and then around the far side of the house.

The variety of flowering plants in this part of the garden is staggering. While Hoover Boo likes succulents, she's really an equal-opportunity plant lover. And she's partial to roses—a group of plants I know virtually nothing about.

I love it when plants are allowed to encroach on walkways. It shows where the gardener's priorities lie.

Silver ponyfoot (Dichondra argentea) growing in the gaps between pavers. A big payoff for a small thing.

We've walked through another set of gates and are now on the eastern side of the house (and garden). How many synonyms are there for “beautiful?”

As much as I tried to focus on the other plants, my eyes kept jumping back to this golden-orange stunner. It's an Aechmea blanchetiana 'Orangeade', a large Brazilian bromeliad (up to 4 ft. in height) that can tolerate full sun.

Aeoniums and roses

Salvias, roses and Geranium 'Rozanne'

Salvia 'Wendy's Wish'

This Metrosideros excelsa 'Gala' is in the northeast corner of the garden:

Bromeliad beauties near the house: 

Aechmea chantinii 'Black'

Aechmea chantinii 'Black'

Cryptanthus 'Absolute Zero'

Neoregelias, an Aechmea fasciata and a Vriesea hieroglyphica.

Koi pond (more info about the koi here)

I would gladly have stayed another hour and explored more, but there never seems to be enough time for the fun things in life.

While Hoover was showing me around in the garden, my wife and daughter played with Natasha and Boris—the bona fide rulers of this Piece of Eden.

  • Hoover Boo's garden blog, Piece of Eden
  • Succulents and More: Piece of Eden truly is a slice of paradise (part 1 and 2)

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  1. Beautiful photos of a favorite garden. Had I not had a chance to visit myself I would be very jealous. This garden saved me from loosing my mind during a really bad winter in 2017, when I was able to escape our snow-bound nightmare and wander through this bit of paradise.

  2. It's been over a year since I've seen HB's garden in person but I swear it looks better and better each time. The long-distance shots, something I've never managed to collect, are fantastic. I didn't realize that Aechmea blanchetiana could handle full sun but, now that I do, I'm going to give mine a chance to shine too.

  3. Piece of Eden is by far my favorite blog, she speaks her mind and shows a wide variety of things happening in the garden. Thanks for giving us this different point of view. (Since we're on the topic of favorites, I must add that Succulents and More is a favorite for best photography. I especially liked the trip to Adak, Alaska, faraway places with strange sounding names.)

  4. Oh my gosh, I love it. I'm an avid follower of the Piece of Eden blog and your wide views are very much appreciated. I've looked at it several times and wondered how I can achieve just one percent of this beauty on my little plot of land. Lovely, lovely, lovely! Thank you and Hoover Boo for a touch of gardening heaven.

  5. Your photos of Hoover Boo's garden are as fabulous as ever. Interesting to see HB's garden from another's point of view. Provides a totally different perspective. Would love to have a koi pond like HB's in our back garden. Thanks for a great tour.

  6. Thank you for sharing your views of the Piece of Eden garden. It is an inspiration, especially the slope garden in the front area. Being able to situate plants so that they are all visible really makes the forms stand out beautifully. She took what could have been a negative area and made it very positive. Your photos are marvelous and your comments clarifying!

  7. Thanks so much for posting your wonderful photos of HB's garden! I've been to Southern California a couple of times and have been tempted to contact her for a tour, but have just never gotten up the nerve, since I'm such an introvert. How many 'Joe Hoak' Agaves does she have? I think I counted 7 in one photo.

  8. Holy moly that's an impressive garden. Your photos are superb, too.

  9. What a garden. Heaven on Earth! Thank you for all your wonderful tours there!


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