A Piece of Eden in Southern California (July 2022)

Hoover Boo’s Piece of Eden was one of the first garden blogs I started to follow, and it’s still one of my favorite sources of inspiration. Hoover Boo faithfully documents the continuing evolution of her ½ acre garden in the benign climate of Orange County, California, about 15 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. Winter temperatures rarely drop into the 30s, and summer highs rarely exceed the high 80s. This allows her to grow pretty much anything she likes—from roses to bromeliads to aloes and agaves, as well as a multitude of southern-hemisphere shrubs like grevilleas, leucadendrons and leucospermums.

Hoover Boo and I have become friends over the years, and since she lives close to where my younger daughter goes to university, I’ve had the opportunity to visit her Piece of Eden on multiple occasions. I stopped by earlier this week to deliver a couple of echinopsis hybrids I’d removed from my front yard last year to make room for this Echinopsis ‘June Noon’.

Many California gardens begin to look tired by mid- to late-July (mine certainly has) but Hoover Boo’s was sensational as always. While many gardens are heavy on a few select types of plants, Piece of Eden seamlessly combines a wide variety of plants that at first glance have very little in common. Hoover Boo is a very active gardener, constantly editing and refining, and as a result, her garden looks slightly different every time I visit.

On that note, let’s take a stroll through Hoover Boo’s Piece of Eden.

Eucomis ‘Burgundy Sparkle’ and Erica speciosa (right)

Aloidendron ‘Hercules’ on the left, Agave marmorata on the slope above the retaining wall

Agave marmorata is a massive agave, but when planted in a spot like this where it can stretch its wings without being crowded, it makes for a majestic presence

Agave marmorata

Russellia equisetiformis spilling down the retaining wall. This is the perfect way to showcase the beauty of this plant.

Plantings outside the front courtyard:

Agave ‘Blue Glow’ and sundrops (Calylophus ‘Southern Belle’)

Agave ovatifolia and Echeveria ‘Imbricata’

Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’ looking like metal sculptures during their quasi-dormant summer phase

Inside the front courtyard:

Cuphea ‘Vermillionaire’, one of several throughout the garden

Euphorbia tirucalli contrasting beautifully with the urn fountain

Aechmea blanchetiana ‘Orange’ in a blue pot next to a blue chair. Perfection.

Agave ‘Sunglow’; the edge variegation is distinctly more yellow than in ‘Moonglow’

Agave ‘Sunglow’

Walking around the front of the house into the back garden:

Dahlia ‘Hollyhill Spider Woman’ makes me want to give dahlias another try after a failed try last year

Echeveria harmsii ‘Ruby Slippers’ in glorious flower

Another Aechmea blanchetiana ‘Orange’ paired with a red-flowering Pentas

Cane begonia and hydrangeas

Gaillardias and Agapanthus ‘Twister’ (aka ‘Indigo Frost’)

Aechmea blanchetiana ‘Orange’ and Cuphea ‘Vermillionaire’

This stunning indigo-flowering agapanthus came from a neighbor. It looks like Agapanthus ‘Storm Cloud’, but unlike ‘Storm Cloud’ it isn’t deciduous.

Agave parryi ‘Lime Streak’, with Catharanthus roseus in upper right

Agave parryi ‘Lime Streak’, Crassula capitella ‘Campfire’, and Agave mitis ‘Nova’

This tray of bulbils from Agave vilmoriniana ‘Stained Glass’ made its way home with me. I’ll select the ones with the best variegation to grow on and will give away the rest at the next monthly meeting of the Sacramento Cactus & Succulent Society.

Lagerstroemia ‘Cherry Mocha’

Agave attenuata with perfect mediopicta variegation

Agave attenuata

Agave ellemeetiana

Agave attenuata

Volunteer Mexican tulip poppy (Hunnemannia fumariifolia). It was great to see volunteers all over the garden. I find Hunnemannia fumariifolia to be a far better garden plant than the orange California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) because it’s perennial and flowers later into the summer.

Agave attenuata ‘Ray of Light’

Plantings facing the garage

Bougainvillea ‘Imperial Thai Delight’

Texas ranger (Leucophyllum fruticosum) and Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’

Aloe thraskii (left) and Aloe pseudorubroviolacea (right)

Agave desmetiana ‘Joe Hoak’ and Cuphea ‘Vermillionaire’

Agave ‘Blue Glow’ and Senecio ficoides ‘Mount Everest’ (also sold as ‘Skyscraper’)

Another perfectly placed Russellia equisetiformis, spilling down towards a row of Agave ‘Blue Glow’, Senecio ficoides ‘Mount Everest’, and Hunnemannia fumariifolia

Senecio ficoides ‘Mount Everest’, Agave ‘Blue Glow’, and Hunnemannia fumariifolia

Agave ‘Blue Glow’, and Hunnemannia fumariifolia. If you get the impression that Hoover Boo has a lot of Agave ‘Blue Glow’, you would not be mistaken. There are about 50 (!) of them all over the garden, axial offsets and bulbils from plants that flowered in 2019 (see here).

And finally the front slope, the public face of the garden:

Aloidendron ‘Hercules’ towering over the front slope

Agaves, yuccas, aloes, and dasylirions

Aloidendron ‘Hercules’ and Grevillea ‘Moonlight’

Aloidendron ‘Hercules’ and Grevillea ‘Moonlight’, a flowering Dasylirion wheeleri, multiple aloes, and a multi-headed Dasylirion longissimum on the right

Multiple forms of Agave titanota, including the Rancho Tambor form on the left and ‘White Ice’ in the middle, as well as Agave parrasana, Agave ovatifolia, and Agave parryi var. truncata. The aloe in the front is Aloe dhufarensis.

Aloe dhufarensis

Different angle, with multiple clumps of Yucca ‘Bright Star’ on the right

Agave salmiana var. ferox ‘Mediopicta’

Agave rubroviolacea

Yucca rostrata (top right), two Yucca queretaroensis, and a gnarly fan aloe (Kumara plicatilis)

Opuntia microdasys, deceptively soft-looking but armed with countless glochids, and a white-flowering Aloe ferox

Agave ‘Mr Ripple’, becoming more stately every year

Agaves along the border to the neighboring property

Agave ovatifolia, Agave parrasana, Agave parryi var. truncata, and Yucca ‘Bright Star’

If you’re not following Hoover Boo’s blog, Piece of Eden, you’re missing out!


© Gerhard Bock, 2022. All rights reserved. To receive all new posts by email, please subscribe here.


  1. HB's garden is always spectacular and I appreciated all your wide shot views. I'm blown away by how great her Yucca 'Bright Star' look in the front garden. Although we grow many of the same plants, she has a masterful touch with others (too numerous to name) I can't even get out of the gate. I know that she and I have similar views about the horribly dry months of July and August but I think she manages those challenges more effectively than I do.

  2. Gorgeous as always! "Majestic presence" is the perfect way to describe that Agave marmorata—wow! You've probably visited Hoov's garden enough now that you feel like you "know" certain plants and can compare them to your last visit, am I right?

    1. Definitely! I know all the larger agaves and aloes and visit them each time :-)

  3. I follow Hoover Boo's blog as faithfully as I do yours, Gerhard! She is such a dedicated amazing gardener.

    1. Yes, she surely does! A wonderful talent plus years of trial and error. Can't ask for more!

  4. Nice to see Hoover Boo’s stunning garden through your eyes (and lens). I had admired that Agave mamorata in a recent Piece of Eden post, thinking it was pretty big, but your wide shot shows that it is ENORMOUS! Wow.

    I totally agree with you - HB has a knack for combining plants that you wouldn’t think of putting together and yet everything looks so cohesive. I wonder if that skill is learned or innate? I suspect it’s a bit of both.

    - Horticat

    1. I think it's instinctual. She probably couldn't really explain it. She just combines plants that look good together.

  5. Hunnemania in particular I think of a signature POE plant -- I don't think I've seen it look better elsewhere. So nice of your daughters to choose colleges that reap horticultural rewards for you!

  6. Hoover Boo's garden is always gorgeous but seeing it through your eyes is refreshing as your shots show the various areas of the garden. 1/2 an acre is a large urban lot and HB has filled it with a crazy and eclectic collection of gorgeous plants. Lucky you that you are able to visit frequently.

  7. I join the choir of appreciation for the new angle of this spectacular garden. Both versions of variegation in Agave attenuata are fantastic. I'd be hard press to pick my favorite.


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