Mediterranean Skies: San Diego Style

By: Richard G Turner Jr

Richard G Turner Jr is the editor emeritus of Pacific Horticulture. After receiving degrees in architecture and landscape architecture from…

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Patrick Anderson’s new entrance garden in Fallbrook, California. Photographs by RGT

All roads led to San Diego, it seemed, for the last weekend in September  2007. The destination was Gardening Under Mediterranean Skies V, and registrants arrived from all over Southern California, as well as from Northern California, Oregon, Nevada, and Arizona. Hosted by the San Diego Horticultural Society, Quail Botanical Gardens, The Water Conservation Garden, and the Mediterranean Garden Society, this edition of Pacific Horticulture’s popular symposia kept participants busy learning as much as possible about the opportunities and constraints of gardening in a mediterranean climate—specifically, that of San Diego County.

In a break from tradition, symposium coordinator Susi Torre-Bueno organized the weekend to provide maximum time outdoors in garden settings. Early arrivers enjoyed a day of talks and tours at The Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College. Setting the pace for the weekend days were early morning programs at Quail Botanical Gardens by Shirley Kerins, on plants for the Southern California garden, and Owen Dell, on sustainable landscapes, along with a tour of the Gardens. Then followed visits to the gardens of Patrick Anderson, Steve Brigham, Tom Piergrossi, and Greg Rubin. Along with partners and colleagues, each of them generously shared their experiences creating gardens in response to the arid mediterranean climate of San Diego—and having a good deal of fun experimenting with a range of suitable plants,from California natives to subtropicals.

A well-planted path through the garden of Tom Piergrossi in Vista, California

The level of enthusiasm among the registrants was palpable, and the speakers and garden hosts responded with equally warm, enthusiastic, and revealing presentations. We thank all the speakers, volunteers, sponsors, garden staff members, and registrants for their participation and support of this symposium. We particularly thank the indomitable Susi Torre-Bueno for the exceptional timing and orchestration of the weekend. The carpool choreography, alone, would have sent a lesser person to the psychiatrist’s couch.

More than half of the attendees turned in surveys, which revealed a great deal of interest in repeating this format at future Gardening Under Mediterranean Skies symposia. While the majority of participants were from the San Diego area, all seemed willing to travel to other cities along the length of the West Coast to attend another gathering such as this. Consequently, we have begun the preliminary planning for the sixth edition in 2009. Watch for an announcement in Pacific Horticulture: the next Gardening Under Mediterranean Skies could be coming to a town near you.

Richard G Turner Jr, editor

Steve Brigham extols the virtues of Salvia ‘Hot Lips’ at his garden in San Marcos, California