When The Santa Barbara Company acquired the building at 214 East Victoria two years ago, we took on major restoration. The house itself needed ample work to restore its original charm. At that time, the front garden consisted just of a few heaps of succulents. As we filled out the gaps, we chose plants for their drought resistance and their cottage garden style. The color palette was determined by our new paint palette, pale green with white trim and deep terracotta accents for the porch columns.
The garden was also inspired by the products in the shop. Because we carry local products made of lavender, we wanted to include several varieties in the garden. We choose several other bushes – sweet pea bush (Polygala x dalmaisiana), named for the shape of its flower, and blue hibiscus ( Alyogne huegelii), with its big, splashy purple flower resembling the unrelated hibiscus. Tucked in among the bushes are two princess flowers (Tibouchina urvilleana) which will come into their own in the fall with large, deep purple flowers.
Sweet Pea Bush (Polygala x dalmaisiana)
Blue Hibiscus (Alyogne huegelii)
The “bones” of the garden are several clumps of the bold agaves, some species called century plants for the infrequency of the flowering spikes.
I love tending to the garden here and visit nearly every day. Spending time here at the shop with Nancy (my daughter) and Caroline (my granddaughter) is one of my favorite parts about being in Santa Barbara, so I rent one of the rooms in the building as my office. Plus, working on the garden gives me an excuse to visit local nurseries and I enjoy the positive comments of those walking by who see it as a unique garden in the neighborhood.
Before moving to Santa Barbara from Berkeley, I was not familiar with the showing succulent called rock purslane (Calandrina spectabilis) that holds aloft 2-inch magenta flower on tall stems. I love the way they wave in the wind.
There are few things that bring us as much joy as when passerbys stop and linger for a while at the garden. With so many varieties of plants, you may find ideas for your own garden! And of course, everyone loves the garden centerpiece, the stunning circular kiosk sign with the bird house top, designed by Santa Barbara’s famous architect, Jeff Shelton.
We love it when people wander into the shop to browse. My personal favorite will is the collection of metal creatures welded to stakes. Just right for sticking into a pot.