The bronze frog sculpture 'Jeremy Fisher', a Beatrix Potter figure (sculpture by Albert Guibara) has enjoyed three of Susan's gardens.  "He is the happiest he has ever been here, fishing in the creek."

The bronze frog sculpture 'Jeremy Fisher', a Beatrix Potter figure (sculpture by Albert Guibara) has enjoyed three of Susan's gardens.  "He is the happiest he has ever been here, fishing in the creek."

When Susan purchased this property, only the mature trees existed on site - and with the help of Will McGowan, she carefully chose every single plant that you will see on tour. Many are sentimental, gifts from friends, or have a personal story.  Many have been propagated from the plants of fellow garden club members. This garden is 100% organic, sustainable, with active vermiculture on site - Susan has done worm composting for over 40 years.

When Susan’s daughter initially saw the property, she knew it was exactly what her mother had been searching for; peaceful, historic and a blank canvas. Susan remembers when she first stepped onto the property, “ The magnificent trees welcomed me and I thought, I have come home.” Susan has truly created an oasis. There are so many exciting elements that you don’t see any place else. She explains, “I don’t have a single favorite but I love white and green." If you notice, when there is a choice, she always chooses variegation.

“When I am in the garden, I feel like my friends are with me. I have planted and propagated so many of their gifts. I actually call the plants by my friend’s names. I often wonder if the trees and cobblestones in the lower garden which were salvaged from the San Francisco 1906 earthquake could talk, what stories they would tell? I am grateful to be surrounded by California history.

It is a happy garden in the woods.”


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Live Oak - Quercus agrifolia

“I bought the property because of this 175 year old tree. When I first saw it, it made me cry.”

Coast live oak typically has a much-branched trunk and reaches a mature height of 33–82 ft. The trunk, particularly for older individuals, may be highly contorted, massive and gnarled. The crown is broadly rounded and dense, especially when aged 20 to 70 years. Some specimens may attain an age exceeding 250 years, with trunk diameters up to 10 or 13 ft. such as those on the Filoli estate in San Mateo County

Drought tolerant, it is important to avoid regular watering within the oak's drip line (canopy), since wet soil in the summer increases infection rates by soil borne Phytophthora diseases like sudden oak death.

Mature Size:      25 - 82’ height / 15 – 35’ width
Bloom:               Yellow, Cream, Green- year-round flowering season.
Growth Rate:     Moderate, Slow
Dormancy:         Evergreen
Water:                Once established, avoid direct summer watering. Best to plant near an irrigated area as they will stretch their roots to obtain the water they need.
Sun/Shade:         Sun/ partial shade
Zones:                 7-10

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Weeping Cherry – Prunus ‘Snofozam’

“I had always wanted a Weeping Cherry. In this garden I had the perfect spot.”

Sold under the trade name of SNOW FOUNTAINS, it is a slow-growing, weeping, ornamental cherry that is sold in a variety of forms: (1) a compact, naturally weeping tree (most other weeping cherries are topgrafted) that typically grows 8-15' tall, or (2) a compact tree topgrafted at 6' or (3) a ground cover. As a weeping tree, its cascading branches dip all the way to the ground, giving the appearance of a white or snow fountain when covered with pure white flowers in early spring. Dark green leaves (to 3 1/4" long) turn attractive shades of gold and orange in autumn. This cultivar is known by several different names, including 'Snofozam', 'White Fountain' and 'Snow Fountains'.

Mature Size:      8’ -15’ height / 6’-8’ width
Bloom:               White (April)
Growth Rate:     Slow
Dormancy:         Deciduous
Water:                Moderate; water thoroughly when dry, weekly in the summer
Sun/Shade:        Full sun
Zones:                5-8


Magnolia bigleaf - Magnolia macrophylla

“I get excited every year in anticipation of the coming bloom.  I’ve been told this tree is difficult to find and may be no longer in existence.”

The bigleaf magnolia, is a deciduous magnolia native to the southeastern United States and eastern Mexico. This species boasts the largest simple leaf (30” long) and single flower of any native plant in North America. This tree likes loose, undisturbed rich soil. This tree will likely succeed in sites that closely mimic its natural habitat and where it is protected from strong wind which can tatter its large foliage. This plant is generally problem free.

Mature Size       20-40’ height /  12-30’ width
Bloom:               White fragrant flowers are up to 1’ (May/June). Blooms are not produced until the tree is 12 years old. 
Growth Rate:     Slow
Dormancy:         Deciduous
Water:                Average, Moist, Wet
Sun/Shade:        Full sun to partial shade
Zones:                5-8

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The Chocolate Tree - Azara microphylla

“This is a great corner tree as it is airy but provides weight.”

This small evergreen tree comes from South America.  It has broad leaves and is sensitive to cold. It is a large shrub or small tree of upright growth and notably fine textured dainty foliage. Specimens have measured up to 40’ tall.  Minute, almost unseen flowers are yellowish-green, intensely vanilla or chocolate scented in late winter or early spring. Its cultivar “Variegata” has leaves variegated with creamy white so it lights up dark garden corners wonderfully. Attracts Birds.

Mature Size:     18-25’ height / 12’ width (in 10 years)
Bloom:               Fragrant yellow flowers in spring
Growth Rate:     Fast growing
Dormancy:        Evergreen
Water:               Needs ample water (weekly) and fast draining soil
Sun/Shade:      Full Sun to partial shade
Zones:              8-10

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Wisteria - Wisteria sinensis

“This tree is probably 150 years old.”

Commonly called Chinese wisteria, this is a deciduous vine that grows vigorously to 25’ or more and features 6-12” long racemes of mildly-fragrant, pea-like, blue-violet flowers in spring when the foliage is just beginning to expand.  Flowers give way to pendant, velvety, bean-like seed pods (4-6” long) which ripen in autumn. Over time, the stems of this vine become twisted, trunk-like and massive.

Mature Size:      66’ tall and 33’ wide; can be pruned to a smaller size
Bloom:               Blue-violet racemes in spring
Growth Rate:     Fast
Water:                Average
Sun/Shade:       Full sun
Zones:               5-9


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Foam flowers – Tiarella 

“These were hard to find originally and are very easy to grow, which I didn’t know.  Big bang for your buck, so to speak. I planted them throughout my garden.”

Tiarella are commonly known as foam flowers, because their masses of tiny, spidery flowers atop short stalks collectively look like foam on a stick. They can tolerate deep shade but prefer the dappled sunlight found in woodland gardens. In deep shade their foliage color may fade.  Tiarella are low maintenance plants and can remain undivided for years in the garden without losing vigor.

Mature Size:       12-18” height and 12-24” width
Bloom:                White or pink feathery plume in April/May
Growth Rate:      Average
Water:                 Requires moist soil and frequent watering when warm
Sun/Shade:        Full shade or half shade/ half sun
Zones:                4-9

Hellebore - Helleborus orientalis

“Once established, many have naturalized.”

Susan’s garden hosts a range of hellebore varieties. The most popular hellebores for garden use are H. orientalis and H. x hybridus. The toothed, leathery leaves and distinctive blooms make a happy addition to the spring garden. Best grown in groups in a woodland or shady border. Year round foliage is fairly deer and rabbit proof. 

Mature Size:       14-28” tall
Bloom:                Long-lasting, early spring blooms in a variety of colors- white, pink, purple, green, cream, spotted
Water:                 Drought tolerant but thrive in moist, well drained soil
Sun/Shade:        Sun to shade
Zones:                5a-8b

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Cuphea – Cuphea ignea 'David Verity'

“Will (McGowan) asked me not to grow the pink one because bees tend to swarm around it.”

Cuphea are grown for their tubular, irregularly shaped flowers which have a long blooming season. Cuphea can be grown as annuals where not hardy. Use as bedding or in a border. Sticky foliage. Plants often attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Additional research shows promising results for use of cuphea as a rotational crop; it appears wheat and corn yields increase when grown after a year of raising cuphea. Prune in spring.

Mature size:    Up to 3’ tall
Bloom:             Orange tubular flowers almost all year
Water:              Drought tolerant once established
Sun/Shade:     Full sun or partial shade
Zones:             8-11

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Coprosma - Coprosma ‘Black Cloud’

“I call it my polished waxed mahogany tree.”

Coprosma covers more than 90 different species of dioecious evergreen shrubs and small trees which are native primarily to New Zealand, Australia, Polynesia and Indonesia with 13 species native to Hawaii.  Species plant are commonly called mirror plant in reference to the glossy reflective leaves. Plants grow in both upright and creeping forms. Leaves appear in a variety of colors, depending upon species, and are usually small, thick and leathery.

Mature size:     1-4’H x 2-3’W
Bloom:              Late spring bloom of inconspicuous white to green flowers
Water:               Medium, but can tolerate some periods of drought
Sun/Shade:      Full sun to part shade
Zones:              8-10

Acanthus ‘Whitewater’

“This is a showstopper. My shade planting was getting very dark and so I added a pop of light.”

This vigorous, variegated Acanthus perennial has striking, bold leaves with deeply cut white margins and splashing blooms.  Makes a large clump with 4’ to 5’ tall ornamental flower stalks of pink and cream in summer. It makes an outstanding accent in the shade garden, perennial border or trouble areas.

Mature Size:      3-4’ height and 3’ width
Bloom:               Early – mid summer (pink and cream blooms)
Growth Rate:     Average
Water:                Requires moist soil and frequent watering when warm
Sun/Shade:       Full sun or part shade
Zones:               7-10


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Shrimp Begonias – Begonias radicans

“I have always had these in my gardens. Although the bloom color isn’t for everyone, I love this plant for the leaves.”

A scrambling succulent sub-shrub with bright green leaves and clusters of small coral pink flowers.  Prefers half -shady light conditions.

Mature Size:     18-24” height and 24-36” width
Bloom:              All year (rose, mauve and white blooms)
Growth Rate:    Average
Water:               Average; water regularly; do not overwater
Sun/Shade:      Light shade
Zones:              10



“The shape and uniqueness of the leaves make this plant incredible. I love the markings.”

A must have in the shade. Ligularia have glossy, deep green foliage with a purple underside. Foliage can be quite large and round to heart shape to thin and deeply serrated. Flowers are orange-yellow to yellow and can look a bit like a black-eyed Susan or along the lines of a yellow delphinium. A long-lived plant that does well with good but not perfect care. They do not like to dry out and will not tolerate dry soil conditions.

Mature Size:      3-6’ height and 3-6’ width
Bloom:               Summer- early fall (yellow)
Growth Rate:     Slow
Water:                Frequently requires deep, heavy watering or soils that naturally hold water
Sun/Shade:       Part to full shade
Zones:               4-8

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Epimedium - Epimedium sempervirens ‘Chinese Heart’

“This didn’t do well in Carmel, but seems to be happy here.”

Easily grown in average, acidic soil. Foliage will usually burn in full afternoon sun. Tolerates drought and dry shade (rhizomes hold moisture) once established. Clumps spread somewhat slowly but will form attractive colonies over time. Foliage of Epimedium sempervirens is evergreen in warm winter climates, but semi-evergreen to deciduous north of USDA Zone 7. Any foliage that does survive winter should be cut back in late winter prior to emergence of new growth.

Mass in woodland gardens, wild gardens or naturalized areas. Also effective in partially shaded areas of rock gardens and border fronts. Grows well under trees.

Mature Size:         Clump forming, 2’H x 2’W
Bloom:                  Airy flowers in spring; white, yellow  
Water:                   Dry to medium; prefers moist soil but will tolerate dry shade
Sun/Shade:          Part to full shade
Zones:                  5-9

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Deciduous Azalea - Azalea x ‘Klondyke’ (Exbury hybrid)

"Function, beauty."

An extremely hardy selection that provides a massive display of vibrant golden yellow/orange single blooms with lush, bronze-tinged green foliage. The small mounding form is excellent for massing in shrub borders, or for use as a bold landscape accent. Deciduous.  These azaleas thrive in sunshine.

Deciduous azaleas, like other azaleas and rhododendrons, need a well drained, acidic soil.  Prune immediately after bloom to prevent cutting off next year’s buds.

Mature Size:      4-6’ tall, 3-5’ wide
Bloom:               Spring bloom; known for bright yellow/orange with red tinged blooms
Growth Rate:     Slow to moderate
Dormancy:         Deciduous; red color in fall
Water:                Regular
Sun/Shade:       Full sun to partial shade
Hardiness:        5-8