Hortense Miller Garden blooms for open house

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The Hortense Miller Garden, a hidden gem in North Laguna, welcomed nearly 300 visitors to its free open house on Saturday, April 6. The event included guided home and garden tours, a children’s art workshop, and a fascinating talk on “bees.” The open house also featured roaming plein air painters. The garden’s unique features and beauty left the visitors in awe and eager to explore more.

Hortense Miller Garden volunteers give a bee presentation during the garden’s annual open house. Photo courtesy of HMG

Handmade planters with succulents and salvaged wood from on-site fallen trees were sold for donations.

Hortense Miller and her husband Oscar built their Mid-Century home in North Laguna overlooking Boat Canyon on 2.5 acres in 1958. Oscar died of cancer the following year. Miller, 50 years old at the time, spent the rest of her life developing and maintaining her hillside gardens while living in their home. She passed away in 2008 at the age of 99. Miller was an educator, a passionate environmentalist, an author, and an artist trained at the Chicago Art Institute.

In 1976, Miller’s generous gift of the house and property to the City paved the way for a permanent public garden. This was not just a garden but a testament to community spirit and shared love for nature. The nonprofit Friends of Hortense Miller Garden was established to manage and care for the property, relying on the dedication of mostly volunteer gardeners and an unpaid board of directors.

Young nature lovers enjoy a children’s art workshop. Photo courtesy of HMG

These individuals, driven by their passion for the garden, oversee the maintenance and provide tour guides and docents. The funds that keep this community effort going are derived from donations and memberships, including some funding by the City.

Docents lead open house participants around the garden grounds. Photo courtesy of HMG

The garden is open for tours on Thursdays and Saturdays by reservation only through the City Community Services Department at lagunabeachcity.net  Visit hortensemillergarden.org for more information on events, workshops, visits, or to become a member.

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