Pescadero Area Garden Tour

Last weekend while at one of my favorite nurseries I noticed a promotional card entitled "Gardens of the South Coast Tour".

The tour consisted of a combination of 14 private gardens, farms and ranches in the South Coast region of San Mateo County. If you've ever driven Hwy 1 between San Francisco and Santa Cruz you may have driven through the area. Specifically - the South Coast is along Hwy 1, between Half Moon Bay and northern Santa Cruz County which is a beautiful stretch of road running past lots of small state beaches. Pescadero's mild climate is a bit different from my home town of San Carlos just 30 miles away on the other side of the coastal ranges - as a result the garden's contained many plants I wouldn't normally consider planting.

The coastal marine layer was out in force, which isn't unusual, but even by the residents reckoning this day the fog and low clouds seemed particularly heavy. Each garden in the tour was conveniently marked for out of town visitors like myself.

Historic Cottage Garden

From the guide "Our garden is divided into different 'rooms,' featuring roses, perennials, herbs, and flowering trees. There is a long double border, an enclosed rose garden, and an area for vegetables and fruit trees. Around our water tower is a cottage garden on one side and a white planted garden on the other side."

One of the owners mentioned that this was the home of a man who drove a local stage coach which was in operation until the 1920's.

 As you may have noticed - flower borders ran throughout the garden.

The old water tower creates a private side garden.

View into the ground floor of the water tower - almost looks like a county run museum.

The "Random Garden"

This property has a small creek running through the middle of the backyard. It's difficult to tell from this angle but the bridge wass definitely a practical addition.

 We missed the lavender bloom by a few weeks.

Dominating the backyard is a large Redwood which it's safe to say creates it's own micro-climate.

The mix of Redwood Sorrel, Pacific Bleeding Heart and Vinca seem to be thriving.

Forever Bloom Farm, 413 Dearborn Park Road

As I pulled into the parking lot I was greeted at the farm stand with the offer of a complementary, homemade cookie and glass of lemonade. The residents of Forever Bloom Farm were some of the friendliest on the tour.

Forever bloom is a cut flower farm as you can see above - although they also had fields of strawberries and other edibles.

Looking back toward the coast and into a blanket of fog. This 5 acre farm was one of the few sunny spots of the day.

Shared Garden on Pescadero Creek Road

From the guide "These small Victorian houses on the main road into town have mature, robust borders closely planted for texture, dramatic shape and privacy. The gardens open into each other so that the communal animals share a space."

I walked down the driveway looking for the garden or a host.

I wasn't sure if I was allowed to enter but it was interesting looking - so figured I'd ask for forgiveness if necessary. Had I read the guide more closely I would have realized this was the shared garden for two houses.

Wow! Inside was an explosion of color, texture and shape.

Above is a view of the street entrance to the second house.

It's difficult to tell from the photo below but the Jerusalem Sage probably stood over 6ft tall in places! Walking through it felt as if I was completely enveloped in a sea of yellow.

Jerusalem Sage

Looking back toward the main street and entrance to the garden. The flower stalk in the distance looked to be from a massive Agave salmiana. I regret that the owners were not around when I visited - I really wanted to meet them and ask about how their garden evolved.

Looking toward the back of the property and an intimate seating area. The owners did an excellent job of framing views at the end of each path.

Circling back toward the first house and our entry point into the garden. Every stretch of path created a sense of mystery with their sinuous curving shapes and mature planting that blocked just enough of the views. Do you think at least one of the owners is an artist or designer?

Chickens who get the run of the communal gardens

Opuntia and bespoke wooden fence
This impressive looking wall is about where we entered the shared garden. The barrier of driftwood, cypress branches(?) and mass of Opuntia give the garden a whimsical feel.

Bean Hollow Road
From the guide "The Garden sits on a 4 acre parcel, of which about 1/2 acre is cultivated beds. It is a serendipitous garden that has been continually evolving for 25 years. People frequently ask me how I manage to always have something in bloom, to which my reply is that I go to nurseries every month and buy what's in bloom."

The front garden and main entrance to the house feel different than the backyard.

I thought the leaves of this hydrangea were striking against the house's stone facade.

Garden shed
A theme in this garden.... Buddha statues and brightly colored flowers.

Walking around the side of the house and into the terraced backyard.

Yes, the garden comes with a large pond. Nasturtium seems to grow wild here... it was in most of the gardens and even grows wild on the side of hwy 92.

I see a smattering of the familiar Agave, Aloe, and Kniphofia in the above picture. What felt different about this garden from my own were the broad leaf plants and generous lawns that roll throughout the property.

Pride of Madeira
I couldn't resist posting this soothing 'wall of green' - located just behind a side gate. Echium is a plant that also grows wild on the side of the road in these parts.

Go forth and garden.


  1. #4 for the win! Wow, I love everything about the communal garden and wish you would have been able to talk with one of the owners....

  2. I agree :) Obviously a labor of love, effort and a lot of plant knowledge. I'm sure had you been there you would have come away with 100 photos!

  3. What a nice garden tour. Venues off Highway 1 sound so much more enticing than the usual tours here, which generally require lots of freeway time and parking nightmares. It looks as though the gardens weren't at all crowded either - or you're very good about shooting your photos around other people. Garden #4 was also my favorite but #13's pond was envy producing.

    1. thx Kris - yep, it was generally very quiet so taking pictures through throngs of gardeners wasn't an issue. In fact - there was plenty of time to speak with the homeowners which made each garden so much more personal. The San Mateo County south coast is a beautiful section of CA - if your ever up in the Bay Area you should stop there for an afternoon!

  4. Do you suppose they do this every year ? I would definitely be up for this if they do it again in 2020.

    1. I believe the answer is yes. I spoke with the organizer who mentioned it was an annual event - although it had taken a hiatus in years past. Here's a link for this yrs event -

  5. Thank you for the tour! Excellent photos, interesting gardens, and beautiful area.

    1. Thanks for the kind words! Pescadero and this part of the coast definitely have a unique micro-climate which means they can plant a much wider variety of plants than I can just 20-30 minutes away.


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