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All-Season Garden

Color and fragrance abound all year long in this Escondido landscape

WHEN BURTON ENQUIST LEFT TEXAS for San Diego, the affable consulting petroleum engineer didn’t want a home on the sand. “I grew up in rural Texas, and I like trees and birds and wildlife. All those things come with a landscape. We have that now, and it came with Ruth.”

Ruth is Oceanside landscape designer Ruth E. Wolfe. Dissatisfied over the years with “uncoordinated” landscape designs and maintenance, Burton and his wife, Marty, turned to Wolfe after reading about one of her lush, layered gardens. “Ruth’s plant expertise was matched by her artistic side,” Burton says. “She had a vision; and once I realized that, I told myself to shut up and get out of the way.”

Today, the Enquists’ revamped garden stretches from the front yard, past a pool, patio and pavilion and into the formerly overgrown “back 40” of their acre property in Escondido. “All we knew was the pool area,” Marty says. “Now we have all these garden rooms. Our idea of outdoor living has been enlarged.”

The landscape’s sophisticated mix of drought-tolerant trees, shrubs and perennials is densely underplanted with thousands of bulbs — a Wolfe signature that fills the garden with four-season color and fragrance. In the new entry garden, thousands of narcissus, baboon flowers (Babiana), Watsonia and harlequin flowers pop up spring through summer among lavenders, prostrate rosemary, California lilac and yarrows.

A new flagstone path curves past an elegant sapphire blue fountain into a dappled side yard where two golden ‘Aurea Saligna’ cypresses are skirted by flowers in shades of blue (Marty’s favorite color). Among them are long-stemmed ‘Butterfly Blue’ pincushion flowers and Peruvian scilla’s starry indigo blooms.

The backyard pool and spa, designed by Escondido’s Skip Phillips, are boldly edged with coral aloes and magenta baboon flowers. A sheltering screen blends glossy abelia, towering spuria iris, navy sages and Crinum nigra with its scented, spidery flowers.

Steps away, a pair of blue-gray weeping acacias marks the entrance to what the Enquists call “Crockett’s Garden,” in memory of a family cat. A decomposed granite and flagstone path loops around a gentle slope carved to create a rustic seating area where the couple regularly toast evening sunsets. Risers in the path steps are repurposed logs from a fallen pine — another signature of Wolfe, who strives to recycle and reuse.

Adjacent beds always are awash in flowers, from painterly reblooming iris, daylily and ‘Pink Sugar’ African daisy to maroon-eyed rockrose and dwarf alstromeria. Two weeping pussy willows flower in spring, along with blue baboon flowers, creamy narcissus, rare Watsonia laccata and scores
of other bulbs.

Follow the path down-slope and another garden room awaits: the rock grotto. Here, fruit trees moved from shade into sun have rebounded, bearing peaches, citrus, guavas, avocados and apples for the first time. As this orchard was planted, Wolfe discovered a rock outcropping for an old pool drain and repurposed the boulders to create a European-style grotto outfitted with a wrought-iron table and chairs. Marty often seeks out the secluded retreat for her ongoing Bible study.

“For us, this is a work of art,” Burton says, as Marty nods in agreement. “It’s an evolving living creation. Ruth promised us a four-season garden. We’ve now watched it over 12 months, and that’s what we got.”

Gardens: By Mary James • Photography by Bob Wigand

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As much as I love looking at paintings and sculptures by famous — and in many cases long-dead — artists, I appreciate even more the paintings and sculptures of artists who are not household names. Actually, they are household names — in my world. They are “local artists” that are living and breathing life into new ideas all the time.
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