Virtual Garden Tour Showcases Southern California Gardens

May 3, 2021 Updated: May 3, 2021

A walk in the garden is taking on new meaning this year as the 25th annual Newport Beach Garden Tour, hosted by Sherman Library and Gardens’ Volunteer Association, goes virtual.

Beginning May 8, the tour will feature some of the most unique and finely designed botanical gardens in Southern California.

The professionally produced video tour weaves homeowners’ private stories about their gardens and grounds, providing viewers with a glimpse into the personal context and inspiration for each garden.

Being a virtual tour gave producers the opportunity to feature hand-picked locations outside of Orange County, where the tour is typically held.

“Because we knew we were going virtual this year, we looked beyond Corona del Mar, Newport Beach, even Orange County, to bring to our viewers gardens that normally wouldn’t be a part of our traditional annual tour,” said Scott LaFleur, executive director of Sherman Library and Gardens, in a press release.

“Several of the homeowners on this year’s tour wished to remain anonymous, making the virtual video format a win-win.”

The Newport Beach Garden Tour segment will also contain “artist in the garden” clips featuring accomplished local artists chosen to paint points of interest along the garden tour. Their finished paintings will be available to view and purchase during an in-person summer garden party scheduled for Aug. 28 at Sherman Gardens.

Cultivating a Love for Gardens

In 1966, Arnold D. Haskell, a local businessman with a passion for education and gardens, founded Sherman Library and Gardens along a stretch of Pacific Coast Highway in the sleepy bedroom village of Corona del Mar.

Haskell named the property after his mentor, Moses H. Sherman, a land developer who owned and developed the areas of Southern California that would become West Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, and Hollywood.

When Haskell moved from Los Angeles to Corona del Mar in the 1950s, he purchased a little fired-adobe house as an office close to his home, along with the adjacent vacant property which he landscaped into gardens.

By 1967, he acquired nearby lots, eventually owning the entire block. That same year, he donated the land to The Sherman Foundation, which he and Moses Sherman’s daughters had established back in 1951. The first part of the gardens opened to the public in 1966.

Between 1966 and 1974, Haskell oversaw the construction of the entire block which included a conservatory, central garden, gift shop, café, and library, which remains today much as it was built, a semi-hidden gem along the coast of Orange County.

A Showcase of Gardens

Starting with a Beverly Hills estate overlooking the Los Angeles skyline, guests will tour a small orchard complete with its own orchard house, as well as a modern take on a traditional Japanese garden.

From there, visitors will tour two turn-of-the-century California craftsman-style homes and gardens set in Pasadena, one so illustrious it’s registered in the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Gardens.

Back down to the coast, the cinematic experience stops at an urban, park-like garden in Newport Beach whose owners had designed with a focus on entertaining.

Further south down the Pacific Coast Highway, the tour stops at “The Ark,” a Laguna Beach oceanfront landmark resembling a large vessel, built nearly a century ago.

The tour concludes in a San Clemente jungle paradise with tropical settings framing fire pits, seating areas, a pool, and a koi pond.

Proceeds from the garden tour will support Sherman Gardens’ children’s education programs including science and history-based field trips, after-school classes, and kids camp designed to encourage a lifelong appreciation for nature.

Tickets for the Sherman Library & Gardens’ Newport Beach Virtual Garden Tour can be purchased online or by calling (949) 673-2261.