Garden(er) of the Month

Edith Erickson’s garden exemplifies an artist’s eye for

beauty, color, texture and form


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

She started with a blank canvas and turned it into a masterpiece exploding with color in less than a year. When Edith Erickson moved to her Laguna Beach cottage in 1991, she said there were a few bushes here and there and a huge menacing pine tree that was dripping everywhere, uprooting her fireplace and about to crack the foundation. A year later she got a call that clearly illustrates her masterful talent and artistry.

“When I moved here, the second year, I got a call and somebody said they just gave me the Laguna Beach Cottage Garden Award. I didn’t know there was a committee of people walking around looking at people’s gardens. And I had never heard of them,” Erickson said. “And they also do this!” 

(“This” being the Garden Club of Laguna Beach and Stu News Laguna collaborating on a monthly Garden of the Month, intended to delight and inform readers interested in plants.)

Barefoot is best, Edith feels

Her garden is jaw-dropping gorgeous, an expansive sea of color blooming and bursting with textures and hues that are seemingly inexplicable to attain, yet very simple to Erickson.

There was no mistaking which house was hers, when I neared. I immediately complimented her, as my head was spinning looking in every direction, starring at all the beauty that surrounded me. 

I said, “You must like to garden.” She responded, “I like gardening, yes.” That’s an understatement to say the least. She’s very modest about her talent. Her personality is as charming as her garden. And she doesn’t wear shoes, she walks around barefoot. Her eyes too are as bright and colorful as the flowers she adores, a most incredible light blue.

“I just like to be surrounded by color. I like color. I like living things, so you know.”

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Edith Erickson’s love of color shows beautifully with a spectrum of radiance

I wanted to learn more about this fascinating person with such a great gift. I detected an accent and learned that Erickson was born in Berlin, Germany, studied in Geneva, Switzerland and Cambridge, England.

“Then I came to the United States first to the East Coast and now I am here at the West Coast,” Erickson said. “Now I have degrees from the University Riverside in Comparative Literature. That’s what I taught until I retired and came down here.”

She was seemingly born with an affinity for gardening.

“I have always liked to garden. When I was a child I had a tiny little garden plot. I grew up in the war, so we had to grow our own things. So I started with, I think radish seeds because they ripen and they don’t need any special type of care and carrots and things,” Erickson said. “And then when I moved to the East Coast it’s a special type of gardening, of course, you can grow stuff there that you can’t grow here. Because you have a cold season.”

Her favorites change with the season

With so many different trees, plants, bushes, vines, pots, flowers and gorgeous specimens, abounding in such perfection, even cascading from her garden walls, I was very curious to know what her favorite plants are.

 “Oh God it’s hard to say; it changes. In the spring, I like freesias because of the fragrance. I like anything that has color or if it’s very eclectic. I like gloxinias – they’re red and blue and gorgeous,” said Erickson. But she doesn’t have any one favorite.

I asked her to name some of the plants in her massive garden; it’s so prolific. I just wanted to learn as much as I could. 

“This is just a Chrysanthemum, in the Chrysanthemum family.” And pointing to this exotic plant with big yellow and tiny white flowers, she explained, “This is a shrimp plant. They used to only have it in pink with white and now they have come out with a more dwarf version with yellow and white. I’ve just seen it the first time a few months ago. And then I took a couple sprigs out and I am starting another one for a friend.”

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Her shrimp plant adds exotic beauty to Edith’s eclectic and colorful garden

She does a lot of giving to her friends and loves to help them rehab their plants.

 Toward the backside of her garden, there’s an area she calls the nursery. “This is sort of my nursery area where I nurse things or have things that need to be planted,” Erickson said. “These are amaryllis that I keep in the pots, and in the spring they all have beautiful red flowers, white flowers, and pink flowers. And I have some stuff that I got just now that needs to be planted like snapdragons and petunias, just regular stuff. Things that need to be taken care of.”

I was admiring some of her roses. Erickson said a friend gave it to her and that her friend didn’t like that rose. 

“She said, here, it’s for you. She said, you can take care of it. She just gave it to me recently. It looked half dead, I mean look at it here,” Erickson said. “People bring me plants when they think they’re not doing well, including my daughters. So you will find different things at different times here that I try to nurse back to health.”

Edith nurses plants back to health, as friends and family well know – and some plants love to share her morning coffee

She gave me a tour and I relished every second of it, trying to soak up as much information about gardening to apply to my garden that I enjoy so much. 

I was proud to point out a plant, asking if they were impatiens or vincas. She explained that they were vincas. Many impatiens where thriving in her garden too.

“It’s just an evergreen bush and the impatiens and a succulent plant from a neighbor. It grows like mad, look at this,” she said, pointing as we walked around showing me the many succulents. “I have that one in here and that one in here and it gets these beautiful pink flowers.”

It was lovely to listen to a symphony of happy birds and hummingbirds buzzing about. I commented on the butterflies dancing around her garden, wondering how she attracts so many. She has a gift.

“I have no idea what attracts them; I have so many monarchs. There are lots and lots this year. And I have bees again, quite a few bees, which is good. They’re coming back at least here. They’re so important for our horticulture.”

Continuing with the tour, Erickson showed me a ficus and a Meyer lemon tree, which is her favorite.

“I just planted that two years ago and I have another dwarf Meyer lemon, here I’ll show you, that one I brought back when I moved from Pasadena,” Erickson said.  “It just finished producing. And just look at this, another crop. Although you don’t notice, but they produce seven times a year; it’s just almost continuous.”

Trying to glean some more knowledge, I asked about watering.

“It depends on the plant and I feed very, very seldom. I use good soil and put that in there. For example, my acid loving plants, which means my two little lemon trees and my kumquat; they like coffee. So left over coffee with milk in it: I dump it in the morning. That’s about all they get; whatever is mixed in with my coffee. I think that I learned that when I was watching a program about growers,” Erickson said.

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Edith enjoys sharing her morning cup of coffee with her plants, literally, as she listens to the chipper songs of chirping birds

Her side garden was beautiful as well with an array of color and greenery, rich with plants like coleus that don’t necessarily need a lot of sun. She put her hand on a colorful statue and explained, “She’s is my Mexican Madonna. I used to live in Encinitas and I got her at a marketplace.”

I asked her if she had any idea how many plants she has. It would be like counting blades of grass, it would be impossible to know.

 “No. God. One day I think one of my daughters counted the pots I have.” Ever so modest Erickson said, “I think she was exaggerating but that I had something like 60 pots. It’s just nice to have.”

She graciously showed me the various flavors and colors in her expansive garden from tomatoes to basil, begonias, lantana, dahlias, and a plant called yesterday, today and tomorrow because it has three different kinds of flowers that are white, blue and purple.

“And over here, I have lantana that drape over the edge in different colors. This is dahlia again, this is chrysanthemum and this is lantana. You put one little plant in there and look at this,” she said, pointed out out all the flowers and plants that sprouted from the original plants.

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Flowers drape over the edge of her garden in a colorful array

She loves her garden and gardening, living in an open environment where the inside and outside are one.

“I have always liked to garden, you can follow your own thoughts, and it’s peaceful and the results are tangible.”

She also enjoys being a member of the Garden Club. She’s been a member since 2001.

“You meet nice people. The people who love flowers and gardens are usually pretty nice, you know.”

Dennis’ Tidbits


October 10, 2017


Brooks Street Surf Classic, the second longest-running surf contest, was in fine form this last weekend

What a surprise! We finally pulled off the 54th Brooks Street Surf Classic in fine form as the southern Hemisphere came out of its long slumber and sent us a gift with overhead waves for both days of the event with fairly decent conditions. The tides were a bit extreme but we found a way to pull this thing off. 

The Classic was the latest in the season, only the second time in the history of the contest we had to wait until early October. The other time was the weekend of October 4-5 in 1995. Finally a strong Roaring 40’s low was able to break down the stubborn high pressure ridge that’s been running the show for months, almost seeming like an eternity. 

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

“I knew we were in for a healthy swell”

I’d been monitoring that storm for a whole week and when I saw it take a course to the ENE rather than straight east I knew we were in for a healthy swell. It was only a matter of the timing. Would it arrive here by the weekend? Sure enough, the first signs began showing on Friday morning and the sets got progressively bigger as the day wore on and at dawn’s early light revealed solid 4-6 ft. sets with a few eight footers out at Second Reef, we all breathed a sigh of relief. It’s on! Patience is a virtue! Be patient before you become a patient! 

Final results will be posted in Stu News. It is such a wonderful event and only one of two surf contest that have been running this long. The other one is the annual Surfing event at Makaha on the west shore of Oahu. Both events began their long run in 1954. As far as I’m concerned, everyone’s a winner at the Brooks Street Surf Classic. Isn’t it a blessing to be a Laguna local? I ain’t goin’ nowhere, I’ll be a Laguna guy till I drop! 

Once again, congrats, everyone. 


Young photographers Josh Tanaka, 14, and Marlena Steinbach, 11, capture the drama of Brooks Street 

Josh Tanaka, 14, one of the young Frothy Film photographers who have been providing Stu News with some great ocean pics this summer, sent us these (click on all the photos to see larger images):

Marlena Steinbach is 11 years old and goes to Thurston Middle School, where she’s on the Thurston Surf Team. Here are three of her photos, one of Scout Mitchell in action, and one of Devyn Linder listening to the advice of pro surfer and coach of Thurston Surf team, Mo van de Wall – plus another, surfer’s name unknown…

Both Marlena and Josh sent us several other terrific shots. We wish we could publish them all!

Take a guess: Is it a dinosaur’s spine? A large concertina? A giant caterpillar? An art installation?

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Found art, more like…this photo, by an alert Richard Henrikson, captures chairs collapsed outside the Surf & Sand Hotel after the weekend’s wild surf

Rainbow Radio: Views of every hue from the LGBT community are aired weekly; hosted by Craig Cooley

Rainbow Radio, a new weekly KX 93.5 FM radio show hosted by Craig Cooley, who is also the manager of Main Street Bar & Cabaret, airs on Saturday mornings between 9 and 10 a.m. and is also available on podcast.

 “As the POA and co-owner of Main Street Bar, my brother James and I couldn’t be happier for Craig and his new endeavor. Though [Craig] is still very Main Street I have only encouraged him to pursue this opportunity! I feel the new radio show will further support the LGBT community for all those that it reaches,” Wendy Nelson was quick to note about Craig’s new gig.

“There’s no other beach city with this strong connection to the arts, and so much of its character is a result of contributions from gay people in the arts, theatre, restaurants, architecture, everything, over decades in our thriving community,” Craig Cooley says.  

“While Rainbow Radio wants to represent the history and tremendous and intrinsic contributions that the local LGBT community has contributed over the years to Laguna’s culture, it also, perhaps most importantly, wants to be a vibrant part of Laguna Beach’s future – to support, entertain, and inform the community.”

The show’s first featured guest was Chris Tebbutt, member of the Laguna Beach LGBT Culture & Heritage Committee and the driving force behind the City’s proclamation of June as Gay Culture & Heritage Month.

“I was so honored and excited to be Craig’s first guest,” Tebbutt says. “It’s part of the wave of enthusiasm that is happening here in Laguna for the outward expression of love, diversity and inclusion in our town. To me, the “rainbow” represents all, not just the LGBT community. It includes all colors, and just what our beloved city of Laguna Beach embraces.” 

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Photo courtesy Rainbow Radio

Christie Draper, outreach coordinator for S Cal PFLAG with husband Kevin, son Dylan (on left) and his boyfriend

Craig says the most challenging aspect of the job is getting the technical o operation of the equipment down, the music and program content lined up and ready to go – but he is learning fast.

“I absolutely love interviewing guests, I love to get their perspective on many things, career-wise and personal, get to the heart of what is going on locally and culturally; for me, the “human element” is the best part of the job,” Craig adds. “It’s a dream job.”

The program has also hosted Tony Nunez, small business entrepreneur/dance teacher and a former national salsa finalist, and Chance McKee, director of annual giving for the AIDS Services Foundation, as well as Christie Draper, PFLAG’s outreach coordinator for South OC. The lovely Endora will drop by from time to time also.

Listen online at or tune in to KX 93.5 every Saturday morning from 9 -10 a.m. to listen to Rainbow Radio.

LBBC meeting on Oct 19 will feature artists Jon Seeman and Lorraine Passero

The Laguna Club Business Club monthly meeting will take place on Thu, Oct 19, from 7:30 - 9 a.m. This month’s topic will be “Inheriting Art: Laguna’s First Tradition,” presented by Jon Seeman and Lorraine Passero.

Art has been an essential component in the lives of husband and wife artists, Jon Seeman and Lorraine Passero. As a successful sculptor and business owner, Jon has been commissioned by the City of Laguna Beach to create a number of public sculptures. 

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Submitted photo

Jon Seeman and Lorraine Passero

Discovering Jon’s artistic heritage, Lorraine was determined to uncover the life and art of his great-great aunt, a 1890s Laguna first woman artist. In her book Distant Indigo, she brings to light for the first time the accomplishments of artist, author, and poet Clara Mason.

LBBC meetings begin with a buffet breakfast and brief networking roundtable. Meetings are hosted at the Hotel Laguna, 425 S. Coast Hwy. Non-members are welcome. 

LBBC is a group of local business professionals and entrepreneurs who meet monthly to discuss current events, business opportunities and share insights within the context of our community and our lives.  To attend a meeting or for more information, visit

For more information or to RSVP, contact the host of this meeting Jerry Immel, who can be reached at 949- 494-7498.

Annual Harvest Festival at South Laguna Community Garden Park on Oct 22

The annual Harvest Festival will take place at South Laguna Community Garden Park located at Eagle Rock & Coast Highway in South Laguna Village on Sun, Oct 22 from 2 p.m.- 5 p.m. 

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Photo from website

So Lag Community Garden Park’s recent fair

There will be face painting, pumpkin decorating, prizes, fun family games, live music and potluck. Bring drinks and a dish to share. Reusable dinnerware will be provided for this zero-waste event.

For more information on this upcoming event, visit

Laguna Presbyterian Church celebrates its 100th anniversary with Missions Fair this Sunday

Laguna Presbyterian Church is celebrating its 100th anniversary during October, which is the  Mission Outreach Month.

The community is invited to join Laguna Presbyterian Church for Missions Fair on Sun morning Oct 15. Worship services start at 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. and will be followed by special activities in Tankersley Hall from 9:30 to 11 a.m.

See where LPC is involved around the world, visit with some of the church’s local and global Mission Outreach partners, and show where you have been involved in mission work.

There will be fun, music, and cake. Everyone is invited.

Laguna Presbyterian Church is located at 415 Forest Ave. For more information, contact the church office with questions at 949-494-7555.

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