Sherman Library & Gardens
Sherman Library & Gardens
Corona del Mar, California
Sherman Library & Gardens is everything you could want in a pleasure garden tucked into an elegant yet unassuming walled property along the Pacific Coast Highway. As I approached, flowering vines and statement trees poured and peered over the outer walls, immediately sparking my curiosity as to what might lie beyond.
The gardens surround a research library dedicated to the history of the Pacific Southwest. It’s in the former office space of a prominent businessman who gradually transformed the grounds into a sizable garden. The idea behind the gardens was to create a space of tranquility to escape the stresses of work. Coming through the front gate into the rustic Sun Garden gave me the welcoming vibe of a country cottage.
The design of the garden included winding and criss-crossing paths, which allow visitors to amble about the garden, discovering new areas and doubling back through others from a new perspective. It was kind of fun choosing which path to take: colorful, lupine-lined fountains flanked by citrus trees in one direction or tropical greenhouses offering water features, ferns, and orchids in the other. This maze-like arrangement had the effect of making the modest sized garden seem much larger than it actually was.
Visiting so many California gardens has given me a new appreciation for desert gardens and I have seen some impressive examples, but Sherman’s Cactus and Succulent Garden blew me away with its artistry and design. Colored glass, ornamental stonework, and layers of succulents in all manner of color and shape form a flowing, almost painterly river. I especially loved the area that looked to me like a moonscape, populated by giant agave, aloe, and flowering barrel cacti which commanded my undivided attention for a good while.
I also got a bit geeky for the charming Tea Garden patio with a bright blue fountain and several border gardens overflowing with floral brilliance. The main attraction here was an army of heavy-hung flowering fuchsia plants on one shaded side of the porch. Waxy textured blooms in crazy color combinations bobbed around the heads of all us awed admirers below. If I wasn’t a fuchsia fan before I am an avid convert now!
Final Rating: My favorite part about Sherman Library & Gardens is how it delivers a first-class garden experience for a reasonable $5 entry fee and and a total lack of haughty pretension. Both of the two entrances to the garden offer an immediate visual punch that lets you know that you are in for something special. The rear entrance to the garden was all pops of color with stalks of foxglove almost outstretching the spray of the fountain they surrounded, with beds of dahlias and perfectly trimmed green lawn as a backdrop. No matter where you enter, Sherman starts with a wow factor and then just keeps it coming. FIVE BLOOMS