Friday, April 17, 2020

Visiting Rancho Cistus

After I wandered all around Cistus Nursery last month, I then meandered down the drive and visited Rancho Cistus, to see how Sean Hogan and Preston Pew's "new" garden is shaping up...

A couple years into Sean leaving his old garden behind and I've finally come to terms with it all. I loved that garden. So many wonderful events happened there over the years. I wrote about it quite a few times—here, here and here, for example—but have only done one, very brief, post about his new garden. It's time...

This is the front courtyard, just to the side of the driveway (the driveway is visible in the photo above).

So much has already changed from the before, to the now. I wish I'd taken photos and saved them. Garden progress can be slow, but sometimes there are leaps, like when you can bring in mature Yucca rostrata.

The front of the house...

Everything you see here is new. Well, not the house, but the paint, most certainly the plants, the gravel, the pavers, the deck...

Pittosporum x ‘Sappy’ and Shefflera

Now we're standing on the other side of the courtyard fence looking roughly towards the front door, since it's in the shadows it's hidden. All those little plants in the foreground are newly planted. There are a lot of arctostaphylos out there...

Another view. The land around the home used to be choked with trees and shrubs, an overgrown and uninspiring (to me) arboretum. I am so excited to watch these plants take hold.

A few of the mature trees stayed. Don't they look wonderful against the blue sky?

That gravel pathway leads to a large graveled open space off the back of the house. The bench you can see about mid-photo is actually a lounge.

Several magnolia were allowed to stay...

...and mature trachycarpus were moved in.

I adore that fountain. It's not really Sean's style but he's keeping it. I expect it will be planted up sometime soon.

Several other palms have been planted around the back gravel "patio"/gathering space. Unfortunately I can't ID them.

Nor can I ID this mahonia...but isn't it beautiful?

Pseudopanax ferox

Schefflera delavayi

With super cool leaves...

This area, on the side of the house, was one of the first planted. It's already showing off Sean's cramscaping style.

Pseudopanax crassifolius, I believe.

This paring of Chief Joseph and the yucca seems so right... (and reminds me of this drive-by garden).

Okay, it's time to look at the desert island that greets you when you approach Ranco Cistus, which was the subject of my earlier post on the garden last summer...

It's just so damn fabulous!

I stand and stare and think I've taken it all in, but then I shift my eyes and see something that wasn't there just moments earlier.

With maybe just a few exceptions everything you see was in place all through last winter, which wasn't especially cold, but January was rather wet.

Mangave some somebody...

And how fabulous there are a few ferns tucked in too, desert ferns!

With the house in the background...

Agave ovatifolia 'Frosty Blue'

Puya berteroniana, a collection from high elevation in central Chile

Those orange spines catch the light wonderfully.

I hope you enjoyed this garden tour and I look forward to sharing more as the garden matures and changes.

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Weather Diary, Apr 16: Hi 70, Low 42/ Precip 0

All material © 2009-2020 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. I've been waiting for precisely this post. YEAH! Sean's been posting tantalizing teasers on Facebook, but now I have a much better idea of the overall lay of the land.

    Amazing that I was there a year ago, and it didn't look anything like this. Sean's and Preston's personal botanical garden!

    1. The amount of work they've done is just unbelievable. It really is a botanical garden.

  2. Nothing better than watching a couple of pros start more or less from scratch. Education, information and ideas all for the looking.

  3. I look forward to watching the garden's progress! It looks very different from their old garden.

    1. Yes indeed, very different. Which makes watching what they do all the more interesting.

  4. Nice set-up, I expect it will only improve over the years to come. Is the tall fence next to house to keep (dogs?) in or deer/critters out?

    1. There's no dog at these point, and I realized I haven't asked but rather assumed vines would grow on it and it provided a sort of space defining boundary without being solid. Plus it would provide the added benefit of keeping critters out.

  5. It's always a good thing to love what you do for a living. When that thing is gardening, and you own a nursery, and you live above the shop (so to speak), it must be a dream come true. There seem to have been a white sprinkle of something on the island. White pebbles?

    1. I believe that's pumice for added drainage.

  6. Looks so desert in what is not a desert climate. What an excellent job they did, based on their probably encyclopedic botanical knowledge. I can understand getting tired of green lushness, and rivers with water in them, if one sees green and water all the time.

    After the years-long drought SoCal suffered through, to be honest lush green doesn't get old for me.

    1. All it takes for my parents to get tired of the desert look is about a week in Arizona. Everyone has their limits I suppose.

  7. Oh, thanks for the tour, Loree. I've always wanted to see that property and garden, now both the former and current owners. They are doing an amazing job of it, it's always a challenge to inherit someone else's vision.

    1. Indeed, remaking an intensely gardened bit of land is a lot of work!


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