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Good Time to Tiptoe Through Tulips


Touring home gardens is instructional when the gardens are similar in size and location to our own, inspiring when they are much grander or in grand locations. Tours this weekend include some truly grand gardens.

Visiting one garden on the Saturday tour sponsored by the Palos Verdes Woman's Club is like taking a step back to a more romantic time. Designed in 1928 by A.E. Hanson, a pioneering Southern California landscape architect, this Portuguese Bend garden retains much of its original landscaping, including three formal boxwood mazes and a formal orchard surrounding a home that looks as if it was plucked from the Tuscan hills.

Originally built to be a farmhouse for an even grander estate that was never constructed, the house has a tower and a hayloft and looks much as it did in the '30s. It was designed by Gordon Kaufman, the architect of such landmarks as the original Los Angeles Times building and Hoover Dam.


Olives and huge variegated agaves guard the entrance, and formal paths still follow the original plan. There will be an original sketch by Hanson of the garden design on display.

In 1996, designer Julie Heinsheimer added a new outdoor structure that mimics the old lath house and redid many of the plantings in the central part of the garden, while preserving the old-estate feeling.

Nearby is another remarkable garden that looked like a Monet painting a week earlier. It is planted in brilliant swaths of wildflowers, set among California peppers and edible bananas. The designer, Anthony Baker, hopes the wildflowers are still at their best on the weekend of the tour.

Still another of the five gardens on the tour is newly planted and sits right on the Palos Verdes bluff with one of the most dramatic views in the Southland. Fishing boats are often anchored in the coves below.

The Palos Verdes tour is on Saturday, from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tickets cost $25 and are available at the Palos Verdes Art Center, 5504 Crestridge Road, Rancho Palos Verdes, or call (310) 791-0125. A light lunch will also be served.

The Ojai garden tour, also on Saturday, features more dramatic scenery. Three of the gardens sit alongside a natural creek, which is still running strong this El Nin~o year. They are also built around dramatic boulders, one weighing more than the space shuttle, according to the event's organizer. One of the houses is built around a huge boulder, another has one by its entrance and still another has boulders scattered throughout the garden.

Organizer Steve Bechman admits this kind of natural scenery couldn't be installed for a million dollars.

Another of the gardens is a two-acre rose garden with enough roses to satisfy the most ardent admirers. There are six gardens on the tour, which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Tickets to the Ojai tour cost $20 and are available at the Ojai Valley Chamber of Commerce, 150 W. Ojai Ave., Ojai. Call (805) 646-8126 for additional information. The tickets also entitle one to a free plant, soil amendment and a 10% discount at participating restaurants.

The Ojai Valley flower show and plant sale is being held from 12:30 to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 3 at the Women's Club, 441 E. Ojai Ave., Ojai, (805) 649-1227. Admission to the show is free, and it is considered part of this weekend of garden events in Ojai.


The Topanga garden tour is May 3, and it includes six of its "Hidden Gardens" tucked into that rustic canyon. Gardens here must solve some tough landscaping problems, such as holding up slopes and living with the resident wildlife.

At the offices of the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains, 122 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., there will also be events of interest to anyone living near the Southland's wild areas. There will be several talks and demonstrations on landscaping with native oaks, slope retention and erosion control and fire-safe landscapes.

The traveling California Native Plant Society bookstore will also be there, if you should want information for a hike in Topanga State Park to see this year's wildflowers.

Tickets to the tour, which runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., cost $10 and are available at the conservation district offices, or call (310) 455-1030.


Garden Events

Walks, Talks, Shows and Special Sales

Saturday: Baldwin Bonanza plant sale, with rare orchids from the arboretum collection, plants that appeal to wildlife and choice plants from half a dozen nurseries, including Judy's Perennials, Buena Creek and Weidners, 9 a.m.-7 p.m., at the Arboretum of Los Angeles County, 301 N. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia, (626) 447-8207. Adults, $5; seniors and students, $3; children, $1.

Saturday: Kids' nature crafts, 1-3 p.m., at the Huntington Botanical Gardens, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, (626) 405-2141. Adults, $8.50; seniors, $7; students, $5; children, free. For ages 3-6 with an accompanying adult.

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