Fellows Enjoy Tour of Ojai Gardens
Nestled among the Topatopa Mountains of central Ventura County, Ojai is not only home to many beautiful ranches and orchards, but also architectural gems of quaint bungalows and historical homes. On November 3rd, the Fellows of Virginia Robinson Gardens caravanned north to the crisp peaks along the Pacific coast, for a day of visual stimulation of captivating landscape designs containing flora both indigenous and extraneous.
The tour began with a stop at Gwynne Cottage owned by motion picture and television actress Kitty Winn. The charming cottage was built by the owner of the Ojai Lumberyard in 1920. Great care was taken to build this jewel of a cottage with its maple floors and fir walls and ceilings. A charming petite guesthouse was added in the late 1930s and maintains its original ambiance. The back garden was later added with fruit-bearing trees, such as citrus, fig, plum, persimmon, and kumquats. Stones from a nearby riverbed were used to make small walls and paths, accented with succulents and Mediterranean plants. This precious craftsman style home is filled with family treasures from around the world giving it life and character that welcomes all who visit.
Because Ojai is a fertile east/west valley, citrus and avocado groves grow in abundance. The second property visited, designed by Pamela Burton, over-looks one such orchard. This fifteen acre property boasts a lovely home with garden room views that are complemented by landscape features such as an inviting swimming pool, a cozy grass lawn with fire pit, beautifully designed paths, and expansive views of citrus groves. The home transitions from interior to exterior via textured layers of massed plantings of Pride of Maderia that additionally complement the landscape with not only the orchards, but also the view of the mountain range. The property contains a beautiful cutting garden with over 80 varieties of roses that enjoy the brilliant sunshine. A vegetable garden that would delight any chef with an outdoor kitchen nearby is perfect for entertaining, and is located under a majestic oak that has resided on the property long before the home was built.
The third property designed and owned by Friend of Robinson Gardens member Pamela Burton, also enjoys an expansive view of orchards and beyond. A beautiful garden surrounds the property and “serves as a working laboratory of garden design for actively experimenting with new ideas and materials,” states Ms. Burton.
Upon arriving to this romantic hideaway tucked among the orchards, guests were greeted with fresh squeezed tangelo juice that tantalized the palate! Walking around the property, one can see that “the garden itself depicts the idea of layers of cultivation within the uncivilized wilderness,” Pamela added. The view is spectacular—the landscaped property, which cascades out to the orchards, is enveloped by the expansive Ojai valley, and framed by the adorning Topatopa mountain range. Truly breathtaking!
The garden tour ended at the B Hill Farm, which included a relaxing country-style backyard lunch. Owners Carolyn and Jamie Bennet loved the charming region and purchased this property which sits on 11 acres of fruit, oak and olive trees. They also have an organic “Pizza” garden and vineyard. During a recent redo of the property, they included native grasses and pollinators, a wood burning pizza oven and bocce court. They even have a roping ring!
As a hands-on gardener, floral designer, writer, lecturer, and garden consultant, Carolyn knew exactly what she wanted when planning the design for her dream farm property. The home layout is complemented by the landscape design, with beautiful views all around. A lovely lunch was served at a long table in the garden, adorned with beautiful vases filled with indigenous flowers and plants, and tall glass jars of homemade lemonade. The luncheon was full of fresh, locally grown vegetables, beginning with a grilled persimmon, walnut, and micro greens salad with pomegranate vinaigrette. The entrée was a choice of main mixed grains and giant white runner beans with wilted bitter greens and feta cheese or a pan roasted organic chicken with late harvest tomatoes and olives. The meal was finished with a tantalizing pear and apple crisp with vanilla crème fraiche.
The Ojai Garden Tour, which was planned and organized by Jeanne Anderson, was a spectacular experience and appreciated by all who attended that beautiful sunny day. It was an experience that left a lasting impression on everyone.
Post by Diane Jenkins
Friends of Robinson Gardens member