Laurie’s Holiday Garden

– Posted in: Garden Adventures

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Of all the creative, exuberant gardeners I’ve known, Laurie Connable tops the list. Laurie, who now lives in Hawaii, once had a gorgeous garden near San Diego. After I profiled her for the San Diego Union-Tribune, we became friends. Visiting Laurie’s one-acre garden was a wonderful respite, like entering a magic kingdom. She’d pour me a tall glass of “energy tea” and we’d stroll through the garden, then sit and chat while watching the changing sunlight.

Here’s how Laurie celebrated her garden during the holidays.

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Every year right after Thanksgiving Laurie hosted a garden-decorating party. Friends, neighbors and family constructed garlands, hung baubles from tree limbs and festooned archways and outdoor structures. Kids dug through bins of decorations gleaned in January when everything was half-price. (Laurie bought only unbreakable, weatherproof items.) Teens climbed trees like monkeys. The rest of us sat at a picnic table beneath an immense pine, sipped hot cider, and made red ribbon bows—and new friends.

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This is Le Palais des Poulets. Laurie speaks French and wants to learn Spanish. I speak Spanish and want to learn French. Her emails often go something like this: Hola Cherie! Como esta tu jardin? Besos, abrazos y aloha from Hilo! (Hi, darling! How is your garden? Kisses, hugs and greetings from Hilo, Hawaii.)

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Beyond the pool is the picnic table and the yet-to-be-decorated arch leading into the larger garden.

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Laurie’s front door.

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A fountain in the back yard, near the arch. In Southern CA roses have a second flush in fall that may last into December. These are ‘Red Simplicity’.

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I love how she wrapped the chains of this hanging basket with gold ribbon.

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A metal dragonfly, painted red for the occasion, hovers above the pond.

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A wheelbarrow filled with shiny plastic balls evokes holiday abundance and cheer. Laurie preferred oversized balls because anything smaller tends to visually disappear outdoors.

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On the other hand, for a tree near an outdoor sitting area, smaller ornaments work fine because they’re viewed close-up.

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“On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…a partridge in a pear tree.” In addition to a warm heart and hospitality, Laurie’s gifts include singing, composing and entertaining—all of which she has done professionally.

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I learned a lot about floral arranging from Laurie. This mug contains floral foam (Oasis) into which we inserted cinnamon sticks, variegated holly, small pine boughs and pyracantha berries.

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Laurie explained to my garden club that she considered her garden a major blessing that ought to be shared, in accordance with this Bible verse: “Let everything you do be done in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:24)

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A bench with a topiary rabbit made a good photo op. Yep, that’s me.

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On Christmas Eve, family and friends joined hands and sang carols as they danced around a decorated potted tree.

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This post is my surprise Christmas gift to Laurie. Back when these photos were taken (with my first of five digital cameras), garden blogs didn’t exist. How wonderful that GGW enables me to share Laurie’s joie de vivre and creativity with all of you. And to Laurie, this special message: Hola, querida. Je suis tres hereuse de celebrar mis memorias de tu jardin, y decir mahalo para todos los dias de nuestra amistad. A ti y tu familia: Joyeux Noel, Feliz Navidad y Mele Kalikimaka! (Hi, darling. I am very happy to celebrate my memories of your garden, and to say thank you for all the days of our friendship. To you and your family, Merry Christmas in three languages!)

P.S. Laurie created a delightful CD of songs for children. Learn more and hear her sweet voice at

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Debra Lee Baldwin

Debra Lee Baldwin

Award-winning garden photojournalist Debra Lee Baldwin authored Designing with Succulents, Succulent Container Gardens, and Succulents Simplified, all Timber Press bestsellers. Her goal is to enhance others' enjoyment and awareness of waterwise plants and gardens by showcasing the beauty and design potential of succulents via books, articles, newsletters, photos, videos, social media and more. Debra and husband Jeff live in the foothills north of San Diego. She grew up in Southern California on an avocado ranch, speaks conversational Spanish, and at age 18 graduated magna cum laude from USIU with a degree in English Literature. Her hobbies include thrifting, birding and watercolor painting. Debra's YouTube channel has had over 3,000,000 views.
Debra Lee Baldwin
Debra Lee Baldwin
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