Holiday plantings at Sherman Library & Gardens in Corona del Mar

As you saw in this postRoger's Gardens had mass plantings of ornamental kale to celebrate the holidays. Just down the road, literally less than two miles away, Sherman Library & Gardens had its own share of ornamental kale, as you'll see in a little bit. But the first festive thing I noticed as I was walking up to the entrance were creamy-white poinsettias in the street-side landscaping:

I wonder if they're a permanent part of the plantings or just a temporary addition? I assume the latter. 

Out of all the colors poinsettias come in now, white is certainly not the most exciting, but in the landscape, like here, it works much better than any red or pink would. It goes particularly well with the steely blue dianellas...

...the purple loropetalum...

...and the beige shutters in front of the windows:

Inside the compound, there were plenty of red, pink, and speckled poinsettias:

And plenty of holiday decorations:

Densely decorated Christmas tree

Holiday lights were everywhere, making it challenging to keep them out of photos: 

Leucadendron 'Jester' (front) and Melianthus major (back)

The garden beds featured some inspired combinations:

Farfugium japonicum 'Aureomaculatum' and Asparagus densiflorus 'Meyersii'

Cycas revoluta and Farfugium japonicum 'Aureomaculatum' 

Aeoniums, clivias, and black mondo grass, too

Regular Farfugium japonicum, cyclamen, more black mondo grass, and something chartreuse-y

The felt-leaved silver plant is Senecio candidans 'Angel Wings', looking very much at home here just a mile from the Pacific Ocean. I've killed several, and I won't try again since it's clear that it wants a much cooler climate than I can offer.

Which brings us back to ornamental kale:

Kale and Senecio candidans

A particularly graceful combination with artemisia (maybe 'Makana Silver')...

...and white poppies

Kale mass planting:

That's a sufficiency of ornamental kale, isn't it?

Let's look at some bromeliads, which are happy being outside year round. Corona del Mar is in USDA hardiness zone 10b, or Sunset zone 24, so no worries about getting struck by frost.

The Sherman property isn't large as far as botanical gardens go, only a little over two acres, but there's a lot of variety, not just in terms of plants but also ornamentation:

Umbrellas suspended above the walkway that connects the north entrance to the Central Garden (here is an interactive map)

The Specimen Shade Garden is on the left, the Tea Garden on the right

More umbrellas in the lathe house that connects that walkway above to the Tea Garden

Floating camellia blossoms in the Tea Garden

70-year old pepper tree (Schinus molle)...

....with seasonal ornaments and wish letters

The pepper tree becomes a wish tree in December

The stately pepper tree above is adjacent to the Succulent Garden, the main attraction for me. I'll have a separate post about it in a few days.

Here are a few more “wintery” images—selected leaves spray-painted silver. Call it festive, or call it plant torture, but it's the closest to snow these plants will ever get.

The final image I want to show you is much more to my liking:

The fishtail palm (Caryota mitis) on the left is breathtaking. There used to be one in Capitol Park in downtown Sacramento, 20 minutes from our house, but it never looked this good.

Sherman Library and Gardens is a weighty-sounding name. When I did some research a few years ago, I was surprised to find out that the property was a nursery when businessman Arnold Haskell (1895-1977) bought it in 1955. The old adobe house at the corner of Dahlia Ave and Pacific Coast Highway was built in the late 1930s by the Lushbaughs, a young couple who hand-fired all the adobe bricks. They had bought the land from the City of Newport Beach for $600—that's less than the price per square foot of an average house today! Here is a very interesting article from the Sherman Library's collection entitled "When Nobody Bought $100 Lots in Corona del Mar." Wouldn't it be nice to travel back in time and buy a few of those cheap lots?

In the 1960s, Haskell acquired the rest of the 2.2 acre block and created a series of gardens open to the public as a refuge from the stress and pressures of daily schedules." He chose the name Sherman Library & Gardens in honor of his mentor and benefactor Moses Sherman (1853-1932), a pioneering Southern California real-estate developer (the city of Sherman Oaks still carries his name). So what I'd assumed to be a historical property with roots going back to pre-statehood days had actually been Norman's Nursery (plus the Lushbaughs' modest 1930's single-room adobe)!

Location of Sherman Library & Garden (map data © 2021 Google)

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  1. There's always something new to see at Sherman Gardens - they change out materials regularly, which I guess is a side benefit of its small size. I loved the new umbrellas, first seen in your IG post. Sherman provided the original inspiration for my (much, much smaller) lath house and I'm now tempted to let them inspire me to use paper umbrellas.

    1. I love visiting gardens that are not only beautiful to look at, but also a source of inspiration.

  2. This is one of those destinations I hope to make it to "someday"...

    I like the white poinsettias more than I thought I would, but I do wonder about the wooden shutters with the metal bars so close. What a fortress! Can the shutters even open?

    The umbrellas are fabulous, and I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about the silver painted leaves. The farfugium leaves look real but some of the ferny ones look almost fake.

    1. I don't know if the shutters open. Maybe there aren't even windows behind them, just more wall?

      I agree with you on the spray-painted leaves. Some looked faux, but they were all real.

  3. You find such good information. I didn't know a lot of that about SG's history. Plus the excellent photos. They have hired an outstanding design team--garden looks great.

    Waiting on the vaccine...and waiting, and waiting...

    1. I still think "Sherman Library & Gardens" evokes a long history. Funny that it started from such humble beginnings.

      I was glad to hear that Matt Maggio is still involved. Plus, Ron Vanderhoff, General Manager of Roger's Gardens, and Adam Schwerner, the Director of Horticulture at Disneyland Resort, are on the Sherman's Board of Governors.


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