The fact that Monterey County has some amazing spaces is no secret. However, there are several hidden gems and secret gardens scattered about that are just as beautiful but not as well-known. Lucky for you we have compiled a list of the top 10 secret shrubbery spots around Monterey County. You can thank us later...
1. Loma Vista Garden: Big Sur
The Loma Vista Gardens in Big Sur are a welcome site to many travelers driving down Highway 1. This unique garden space has huge eye-catching succulents and features the Big Sur Garden Gallery and The Altar, two small shops that have unique gifts and art crafted by locals. Loma Vista Gardens is also right next door to the Big Sur Bakery which makes it an ideal spot to stop and have a quick snack. The garden is a popular event space and you can often find weddings and concerts taking place at this beautiful venue.
2. Cooper Molera Adobe Garden: Monterey
The Cooper Molera Adobe is part of the California State Parks and features almost two acres for visitors to explore. The garden, located in the back of the adobe house, is less than 20 years old but is a beautiful testament to Old Monterey farming and gardening methods. The gardens are a lovely place for relaxation and have picnic tables for guests to sit and enjoy the gorgeous scenery outside the hustle and bustle of downtown Monterey.
3. Carmel Secret Garden: Carmel-by-the-Sea
Carmel is no stranger to secret garden spaces and many visitors stumble upon small alley ways and courtyards that are scattered throughout the quaint town. One of these is the tranquil Secret Garden passageway. Located on Dolores between 5th and 6th, this discreet alleyway leads to a small garden that is home to a variety of plants and succulents artfully arranged around garden sculptures and beautiful fountains. The small space is also home to the Pilgrim's Way bookstore which offers up an eclectic collection of knickknacks, music, books, and candles.
4. Earthbound Farms: Carmel Valley
Earthbound Farms is set against the beautiful backdrop of Carmel Valley and is committed to organic farming techniques. On their property just off of Carmel Valley Road, one can pick up a freshly blended juice at the farm stand and go relax in the gardens next door. The gardens feature seasonal pop ups, such as their pumpkin patch in the fall, and has a green lawn skirted with lush trees and beautiful wild flowers. They also feature special events such as their kid-friendly "Bug Walks" where guests can go and release lady bugs into the fields.
5. MEarth: Carmel
MEarth is an environmental nonprofit that aims to educate the public about green living practices and inspire awareness of the environment. The Hilton Bialek Habitat, a part of the MEarth property, features an array of native plants, flowers, a pond, fruit orchards, and a green building which has solar energy panels, rain water collection, and a living roof covered in plants. MEarth has several events throughout the year that encourage community engagement such as their sustainable chef dinner series and the annual native plant sales. This garden is also unique because it serves as an education resource to about 1,500 Carmel Unified School District students that visit each year.
6. The Farm - Salinas
The Farm is an agricultural and education center that is located just outside of Salinas. The Farm does more than organic produce, they also feature a wildflower garden on property. Several times a year they hold "U-Pick" events which allows guests to come and pick their own bouquet of wildflowers for only $6.00 a bouquet. After flower picking, you can visit their produce stand and pick up some fresh fruit and veggies or a pie.
7. Pacific Grove Natural History Museum: Pacific Grove
Pacific Grove's Natural History Museum houses a lovely native plant garden in the back of the property. The garden features different spaces to represent 3 of the major ecosystems in the area - coastal shrub, chaparral, and oak woodland. Along with the Native Plants, visitors can also enjoy a butterfly garden and an ethno-botanical area that has plants used by local California Indians for food and other purposes. What makes this garden unique? Visitors can climb into the garden's human sized nest and children are invited to excavate in the "fossil pit" to find a piece of history to take home.
8. Memory Garden: Monterey
The Memory Garden is located next to the historic Pacific House and is one of the many secret gardens spread throughout downtown Monterey. The garden is surrounded by historic adobe walls and features a large fountain which makes the location both serene and private. Visitors are invited to enjoy shade provided by one of many magnolia trees and view the beautiful gardens walking through the winding walkways and arbor. Because of the secluded location and picturesque scenery, the Memory Garden is a popular event and wedding venue.
9. China Town Community Garden: Salinas
The Chinatown Community Garden is located in Salinas and was set up on an abandoned lot by the Service Learning Institute of Cal State Monterey Bay. This space is a free public garden area that helps give back to the community by allowing people to adopt garden beds to grow their own organic produce and flowers. Volunteers assist community members (including the youth, low-income, and homeless individuals) in learning sustainable gardening practices and provide the materials to help them successfully care for their garden bed.
10. Carmel Mission Gardens: Carmel-by-the-Sea
The Carmel Mission is iconic to Monterey County and many visitors drive by to get a quick picture of the historic landmark. However, what many people don't know is that behind the adobe walls there are gorgeous garden spaces for guests to wander through. The garden is extremely well kept and year round you can find lush greens and a colorful array of flowers growing around fountains and religious statues. There is also a unique and solemn historical aspect to the garden as it is a resting place for Father Junipero Sera and local Native Americans who were essential to the construction of the mission.