Visiting Kris's garden overlooking the Port of Los Angeles

On my recent trip to Southern California, I had the opportunity to revisit the garden of Kris Peterson who blogs at Late to the Garden Party. It had been over three years since my previous visit, and a lot has changed. Kris is a very active gardener, but since she chronicles everything she does in wonderful detail, complete with many photos, I had a pretty good idea of what I would see. Even so, nothing quite matches the experience of walking through a garden in person, taking in all the sights, smells and sounds.

At ½ acre, Kris's lot is large, at least by my frame of reference, and it encompasses both flat and sloped areas. As a result, the layout is more complex than many gardens. I grabbed the following from Google Maps and added a few labels to help with orientation. (Note this myself: Do this for our lot, too.)

Layout of Kris's property

The first set of photos is of the area to the left of the garage:

Lomandra 'Platinum Beauty' is easy to spot, even from the distance!

Succulents, including many mangaves, under an Arbutus 'Marina'

Flawless specimens of Agave attenuata

On to the area to the right of the garage all the way over to where the lot slopes down the hillside:

Snapdragons and aeoniums, that's a pairing I've never seen before, but in Kris's garden, they look they're made for each other

Speaking of aeoniums, Kris has a lot of them, and they were at their most beautiful in April. I won't even try to ID them.

Here's another clump, with Euphorbia tirucalli 'Sticks on Fire' for contrast

The slope is below, from the middle to the right of this photo

Closer view of this succulent planter

Grevillea 'Scarlet Sprite'

Perfect specimen of Aloe deltoideodonta sharing a pot with Cotyledon orbiculata

Whale's tongue and squid agaves: Agave ovatifolia and Agave bracteosa

Agave ovatifolia and Agave bracteosa

View of the slope from below. This area is mostly ivy. Kris would like to redo it, but working here is challenging—and removing the ivy would be a bear of a job.

The only plant able to compete with the ivy, at least to a point, is Geranium incanum, although some people consider it a weed as well.

Continuing our visit in the flat part of the garden, on the south side of the house above the slope. In the photo below, you can catch a glimpse of Long Beach in the distance. It was a bit hazy, but I still thought the view was great—remember that we have no view at all, except of the houses across the street.

More Arbutus 'Marina', expertly trimmed

Melianthus major and Lobelia laxiflora in front Arbutus 'Marina'

Happy aeoniums, Asparagus densiflorus 'Myers', Agave lophantha 'Quadricolor', and alyssum

Back patio outside the kitchen and living room

Looking towards the Port of Los Angeles

What a pretty spot to relax!

More aeoniums, with Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt' on the left

Look how tight they are!

Echium webbii (center) wasn't quite ready yet

Yucca 'Blue Boy' (left) and miscellaneous Echeveria agavoides

Yucca 'Blue Boy' and Festuca glauca

Here's Echium webbii again on the right

Dutch iris (Iris × hollandica) around the fountain outside the living room

Wider view

Great tapestry of colors and textures

Lavandula stoechas, Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold', and Stipa tenuissima

Arctotis 'Pink Sugar' and Lotus berthelotii

I love having a wide path for navigation instead of having to step on plants

Leucospermum 'Goldie'

Leucospermum 'Goldie'

Now we're entering agave territory

Agave 'Blue Glow' and 'Blue Flame'

Euphorbia tirucalli 'Sticks on Fire' makes a great foil for the blue-green agaves

Wider view; the tree is a peppermint willow (Agonis flexuosa)

Plants always find a way (and a toehold)

We've now rounded the corner on the southwest side of the property. The view through this arbor is towards the north/northeast.

More texture

Salvia lanceolata

Arbor looking towards the harbor (southeast)

Wider view with Grevillea 'Superb' and Agave gentryi 'Jaws'

Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream'

Leucospermum 'Spider'

Yucca 'Bright Star' lights up a spot like nothing else

Have I mentioned that Kris has a lot of aeoniums?

Agave attenuata

I won't lie, I was very jealous of all these mounds of aeoniums

I swear, the ambient temperature seems to be 10° cooler in the vicinity of aeoniums

See the purple-flowering plant?

It's sea lavender (Limonium perezii), a Canary Island native that has nothing to do with true lavenders

I saw it all over Southern California...

...and I finally planted one in my own garden. Fingers crossed it'll end up looking as nice as these!

Here's another combination that creates a wonderful cooling effect, at least visually

Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt' and Helichrysum petiolare 'Licorice Splash'

The lath house...

...built by Kris's husband in December 2017

Echium candicans 'Star of Madeira' and another Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream' (right)

Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream' 

One final shot: redbud (Cercis occidentalis) and Echium candicans 'Star of Madeira'

If you follow Kris's blog, Late to the Garden Party (and if you don't, you absolutely should), you know what a huge variety of plants she grows. These photos only scratch the surface. I can't wait to visit again soon to discover more!

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  1. Thank you for visiting, Gerhard! I enjoyed it tremendously, especially after the relative seclusion forced on us by the pandemic. It's great fun to talk about the garden and gardening with people who are equally interested. I've never pulled a Google maps image of my garden with that much detail so it's interesting to see it - I frequently have trouble describing its unusual layout. Even we are just a little fuzzy about the boundaries. The two properties on either side of us were once part of our lot but it was subdivided decades before we bought the house.

    I hope to see you again - in less than 3 years!

  2. Aeoniums! Yes Kris has a way with them doesn't she? And Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt'. Funny I think of her as such a flower gardener but those two plants aren't grown for their flowers of course... proving she's really a master at all the gardening! Thanks for this reminder of my visit to Kris' garden, pre-pandemic.

  3. Wonderful to see Kris' garden! I think 1/2 acre is just about the perfect size to garden.

  4. Thanks for taking us along to Kris's garden --it's fun to see another perspective of a garden that has been so well documented over the years. Kris just might have the biggest stand of Cousin Itt I've ever seen .

  5. Boy if I had views like that I’d keep the height of the plants I grow low or strategically placed as she does. I like the tile work in that one seating quit a lot as well as lots of the plants. Thanks for the tour. I know what Kris means about the pure pleasure of sharing ones garden with the similarly afflicted. We had our first last month and just had another each of the last two days. Saturday I hope to visit a garden I’ve been dying to visit for years now but I’ll keep its maker a secret for fear of jinxing it. Quite the horticultural genius.

  6. Always fun to see a familiar garden through different eyes. You really showcased all the gorgeous aeonium Kris grows. Might have to label her the 'Aeonium Queen'. Great tour.


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