Annually, on the Saturday before Mother’s Day, the Mission Hills Garden Club (MHGC) hosts its Garden Walk. With its mix of historical architecture and sensational gardens, the walk always offers plenty for garden enthusiasts to admire, and this year’s “Stroll Down Sunset Boulevard,” should be no exception. With a little background music from Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, these gardens are ready for their DeMille close up, although Mission Hills’ Sunset Boulevard is much older than the 1950’s classic film and the late ’90s hit Broadway musical. Indeed, the 1908 Inspiration Height Markers along Sunset Boulevard mark several of the oldest neighborhoods in Mission Hills.
“The first home in the area was Villa Orizaba, built in 1887. Subsequent subdivisions, such as the original Mission Hills, Inspiration Heights, Florence Heights and others, developed in the early 20th century. The towering Washingtonia palm trees lining the street are some of the tallest and oldest in San Diego and are a local landmark, said Jim Bishop, co-chair of the MHGC Garden Walk. “Many of the 15 gardens on this year’s walk have had major updates in the last few years. Several of the gardens include front lawn replacements that not only save water but display an amazing abundance of color, utilize interesting hardscape elements, and feature a variety of plants. Even though many of the gardens are new, each seems to perfectly match the design of the house and looks as if it must always have been this way,” said Bishop. Other gardens reflect the area’s traditional design aesthetic, incorporating, 100-plus-year-old trees.
The walk always begins at the Mission Hills Nursery, which celebrated its 100th anniversary last year and which Kate Sessions, “Mother of Balboa Park,” created. A trolley from the nursery is usually available to ferry you to the starting point and pick you up to return you to the nursery for a wine reception. If you wish to avoid the crowd, however, take the trolley to the end of the line and walk the route backwards. This enables ambling along at your own pace rather than chafing in a queue.
Last year’s walk meandered through Banker’s Hill, where Kate Sessions’ historical impact on San Diego gardens is evident. Many gardens feature trees that she had a hand in planting and some of the gardens blossom with plants she introduced to San Diego, including, poinsettia, bird of paradise, Italian cypress, twisted juniper, queen palm, yellow oleander, Carolina yellow jasmine, banyan, New Zealand Christmas tree, Aleppo pine, Brazilian pepper tree, blue cypress, bougainvillea and star jasmine. The Spruce Street walking bridge boasts a fig tree planted by Sessions herself, with a signed receipt to prove it.
The 13th annual Mission Hills Garden Walk is on Sat., May 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Buy your tickets before the walk and save $5 per ticket. Tickets are available online at missionhillsgardenclub.org and at Mission Hills Nursery, Walter Andersen’s Nursery (Pt. Loma), Cedros Gardens, and Armstrong Nursery (Morena). Day of the walk tickets are available only at Mission Hills Nursery.
Joel Berlin owns AnandaScapes in North Park. He aims to bring- you the newest in green, urban gardening and landscaping to inspire new directions in sustainable gardening and landscaping practices as water diminishes and urban areas continue to spread. Contact Joel at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit: anandascapes.com.