Herbal Escape: Gardens at Cambria Pines Lodge

| April/May 2009

You know you are about to enter a special place the moment you set sight on this 26-acre wooded wonderland. Enter the outdoor cafe garden and you are instantly greeted by a full floral experience. Spires of foxgloves erupt from a sea of Iceland poppies, while the scent of lilies and other fragrant flowers fills the air. Colorful mosaic work adorns a series of stone masonry fire pits. But the real focal point of this enchanted scene is a beguiling escallonia, an 80 year-old multi-trunked tree that seems more like a work of art.

Nestled along California’s Central Coast, Cambria Pines Lodge features 5 acres of themed gardens. Most are self-contained within living walls of hedges formed by Monterey cypress, pittosporum or New Zealand tea tree (Leptospermum scoparium). Walking into each garden room is like discovering a secret space.

Around the bend is a literal flower bed, a whimsical floral bedroom featuring a collection of hardy geraniums and ornamental grasses. Bordering the flower bed is an enclave of enchanting birdhouses, each a miniature version of an English cottage.

Walk along one of the many well-defined pathways and you’ll come upon a gated archway that appears straight from the pages of a fairytale. Inside the gate is a myriad of flying fairies, or rather, butterflies. Surrounded by a Monterey cypress hedge, the Butterfly Garden features an abundance of brightly colored nectar flowers, such as asclepias, verbena, scabiosa and yarrow. Arranged in a circular fashion, the fragrant Rose Garden is especially stunning in spring. Three iron arches surrounding a lion’s head fountain are adorned in wisteria, which you can smell long before you notice the plant’s deep lavender blooms.

The Gazebo Garden doubles as a wedding garden partially framed by a coastal sequoia grove. Inside this evergreen shelter is a classic English border garden and stepping stone aisle leading through a lush lawn to a romantic white gazebo. Even more intimate is the White Garden, a traditional Victorian garden filled with the sounds of water from a fountain and the sights of white flowering plants and shrubs that light up the garden with a dreamy glow beneath a moonlit night.

Other highlights include a Succulent Garden, a Mediterranean garden, and a Redwood Walk—a forested glen with a medley of shade plants growing beneath the redwoods. And for more inspiration, a California native plant pathway leads through the woods to the affiliated Cambria Nursery and Florist. The nursery offers gardening demonstrations and workshops throughout the year.
• Cambria Pines Lodge
(800) 445-6868

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