Garden to celebrate 50

The Hortense Miller Garden is holding two commemorative events, a photography exhibit and open house, this summer in celebration of the garden’s 50th anniversary.

The photography exhibit by professional photographer and resident Karen Young will be on display at the Susi Q Senior Center, 380 Third St., Tuesday though Oct. 30, with a special opening reception from 3 to 5 p.m. Aug. 21.

“It was obvious that the garden and its unique location on the edge of a rugged canyon was an ideal setting and inspiration to encourage the arts,” said Leah Vasquez, art director of the garden and coordinator of the photo exhibit.

Vasquez, who introduced Young’s photographs to Garden President Dorothea Yellot and the Friends of the Hortense Miller Garden, understood the significance of documenting the garden for its 50th anniversary and felt a photography exhibit would be a great way to showcase the garden’s beauty.


“[The garden] is especially suited to photography and interpretations of natural and architectural elements on site,” said Vasquez, who has also worked with Young’s parents, Jay and Linda Young, both of whom are involved in local art programs.

In addition to the photography exhibit, the Friends of the Hortense Miller Garden will also be holding an open house at the garden from noon to 5 p.m. Sept. 26 and 27.

The event, which will be free and open to the public both days, is a special opportunity according to Terri Johnson, event chairwoman for the 50th anniversary celebration.

“It’s a rare opportunity really for the people in Laguna who have heard about the gardens and have never been there. It’s just a wonderful opportunity for people to come up and see what the gardens are all about,” Johnson said.


Because the gardens are at the top of a gated, private roadway, normally the only way to visit the gardens is by making reservations through the city. However, the open house will provide free shuttle service to the gardens from the upper level of the Pavilions Supermarket at 600 N. Coast Hwy.

The open house will also feature live music from the Laguna Brisas Harp Trio, docent-led tours and refreshments.

Families are encouraged to come and Johnson recommends wearing walking shoes due to some rough terrain.

“The property is just stunning. It has this fabulous ocean view of Boat Canyon. It looks out on to Boat Canyon, and you have a Catalina view. It’s an unobstructed view; there aren’t any buildings or structures in the way. It’s a real gem for Laguna,” Johnson said.

Event coordinators say that the open house is the perfect chance for Laguna Beach residents to experience the gardens firsthand and learn something about Hortense Miller, who died last year at nearly 100 years old, and the work she put into her garden, writings, and artwork.

“People that go there are inspired. We have a guest book where people sign after they’ve had a tour and the word ‘inspired’ comes up a lot. People just find it a haven, like an unusual haven,” Johnson said.

People interested in volunteering to prepare for the open house or looking for more information should call (949) 497-7925 or visit