Saturday morning, on a last-minute whim, I joined Ruben Flores’ monthly Garden Walk. Years ago, Ruben started the Garden Walk at his original location at Mountain and Coast Highway and continued the tradition after moving the nursery to North Laguna at Jasmine.
I tell you, it’s so much darned fun.
Every time I go on these walks, I have so much darned fun. Ruben is a walking Wiki of every imaginable tree, shrub, flowering weirdness and weed.
But it doesn’t stop there. Because he has expanded his landscape architect business to interior rescue as well, Ruben knows every architectural style (and where people mix and match building materials or all the wrong plants in the rudest of ways). He talks about pavers and sprinkler placement and where the sun will shine on an inappropriately located plant.
He points to dear trees that have been shorn so rudely that their poor exposed branches have been sunburned. He stops in awe to point out a crafty gargoyle tucked away on a chimney or a rare African tulip tree (“a spathodea campanulata,” he chirps).
When his partner, Nelson Coates, comes along for the walk (as was the case Saturday), you get even more fun information as Nelson talks to details of an exterior (i.e. “Privacy glass is fine, but ‘milk’ is such a terrible color,” he says as he glumly looks on a $9 million home that should have known better).
Nelson’s world in Hollywood production design has made him a walking-talking encyclopedia on surfaces, finishes and ghastly vs. great aesthetics around a home, and he shares his thoughts on walkways, driveways, pagodas, gazebos and whether shutters or window planters work.
$10 Entry for Thousands of Dollars of Free Advice
Each month, the walking tour starts at the Nursery with champagne and a $10 charge. The group either sets out walking or drives to a meeting place. This time, we took to Hillcrest Drive in North Laguna. We gazed fondly at The Witch House, then ambled up hills and down streets, even wandering onto Spur Ridge Road, a lesser known access point to Laguna Coast Wilderness Park.
The next Garden Walk is on Saturday, Aug. 4th. It’s not a strenuous walk but bring good walking shoes and water. It’s the most imaginative way to really discover the magic of Laguna Beach.
Laguna Nursery and Ruben’s landscape business, Visionscape, Inc. are located together at 397 North Coast Highway (Jasmine cross street). Call to reserve your Garden Walk at (949) 494-5200.