A California Hidden Gem: Grand Tradition Estate & Garden

I’ve been doing a lot of research lately for several trips in my future and I am specifically seeking out those “hidden gems” to discover and experience. You know, things off the beaten track that make you feel like you are experiencing a town like a local. I am a Southern California native and this past weekend I discovered a hidden gem surprisingly located only 2 hours away from home. Grand Tradition Estate & Gardens is located in Fallbrook, California, a small rural community in North San Diego County. Grand Tradition was the brainchild of Fallbrook couple, Beverly and Earl McDougal. They purchased the property in the 1970’s and turned this former swampland and orange grove property into what I like to call a “life event center”, a venue for weddings and other special events. The entrance is rather unassuming and looks like the driveway to an adjacent office building. But once you turn down the driveway and pass the gates, you realize you’ve discovered something special tucked back behind the main road.
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The main building on the property is known as Beverly Mansion, which looks and feels like a Victorian Era home but was specifically built in the 1980’s as a special event venue. Instead of constructing a Spanish style building, which would be more appropriate with the surrounding community, Beverly McDougal opted for a Victorian because she wanted something more “romantic” in style. The McDougals had no experience in architecture or landscaping but they did a lot of research and had a ton of vision. And when they ran short of money during the construction process, they cut all the shingles for the facade of Beverly Mansion by themselves in order to reduce costs. They left no piece of wood left for scrap. beverly mansion grand tradition fallbrookgrand tradition estate and garden beverly mansiongrand tradition estate and gardengrand tradition estate and garden fallbrook 1grand tradition estate and garden fallbrook californiagrand tradition estate fallbrook garden

Behind Beverly Mansion is a large heart shaped lake with a fountain and gazebo. The gazebo is a popular spot for weddings. The day I visited, I witnessed a couple taking engagement photos here and throughout the property. grand tradition the veranda beverly house fallbrook

The Veranda Restaurant is located on the backside of Beverly Mansion. The Veranda overlooks the vast gardens, pond, and fountain. I enjoyed a nice lunch with some of the ladies in my family to celebrate a belated birthday.

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the vernada restaurant grand tradition estate and gardenthe veranda restaurant

What I enjoyed most about visiting Grand Tradition was spending time with family and being able to slow down to enjoy the moment. The short few hours visiting Grand Traditions made me forget the stresses of daily life while enjoying such a beautiful park like setting.

If you decide to visit Grand Tradition, I strongly suggest you take a golf cart tour of the grounds. For $25.00, our small group (in addition to the entrance fee), received a private tour of the property. Our docent was friendly, very knowledgeable when it came to identifying particular plant material, and provided a great overview of the history of the site. A wonderful afternoon was had by all…

grand tradition estate and garden fallbrook

Photos 1, 5, 6, & 13 via Grand Tradition; All other photos by Reviving Charm.

The French Garden of John-Mark Horton

I love a beautiful garden and I look forward to the time when I can start properly planning the gardens of our seaside ranch home. Patience is probably the most important virtue of a gardener but unfortunately, it is not a trait that I possess when it comes to gardening. When dealing with landscaping, I have to remind myself that things come slow and steady. After all, it took many years for even the most beautiful gardens in the world to evolve and literally bloom into something unique and special. And speaking of beautiful gardens, the current issue of Elle Decor features the French home of Los Angeles designer John-Mark Horton. Friends of his mother, Raymond Poteau, a French antique dealer, and Henry Clarke, an American photographer for Vogue, purchased several properties one by one to create a lovely hillside home. As a child, John would visit the property with his mother and play in the garden. He recalled “The extremes of light and shade, and all the little corners you could hide in – it was glorious”. After the death of the couple, John decided to purchase the home after learning that it would be auctioned off. The home, perched on a terraced French hillside overlooking the beautiful blue sea, was in a state of disrepair and was reworked through a labor of love. I can definitely see how John was captivated by such a stunning location.

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The three pictures of John’s garden above are the only ones featured in the Elle Decor spread. They made me long for more so I hopped on over to his website and Instagram feed where I found a few additional pictures. The one below was particularly intriguing to me since I love a good “before” and “after”. It’s amazing to see how this particular part of the garden had filled in completely over time. It would be a treat to visit in person. 

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Prolific California Proteas

I know I am not alone when I say that I enjoy having fresh flowers in our home or on my desk at the office. Given my love affair with flowers, I thought it would be fun to take a floral arranging class to learn some tips from the professionals and create a new arrangement to adorn our seaside ranch home. I’ve been wanting to take a class for quite some time and now I can officially cross it off my bucket list. I did quite a bit of research on a variety of floral arranging classes offered in the greater Los Angeles and Orange County Area. I eventually decided to sign up for the “Prolific California Proteas” class offered this last weekend by Flower Duet located in the Southbay community of Torrance, California. Over the last year or so, I’ve recognized my new found respect for the Protea so this class particularly piqued my interest. And after two hours in class, I packed my finished arrangement into my car…flower duet protea flower arranging 1

When I got home I moved the arrangement to various locations in the living room before it settled into a new home on the entry table. And if you follow me on Instagram, you might be able to spot the subtle changes in the arrangement after fussing over it a bit more once I got it home. Overall, I am proud of my creation and thrilled that they continue to look as good as the day I brought them home (it’s been 5 days!). I had a great time at the class playing with flowers (Thanks, Kit!) and was happy to bring something pretty home to put on display. Most importantly…I realized that it’s never too late to try something new…I highly recommend it!

The flower doesn’t dream of the bee. It blossoms and the bee comes.   –Mark Nepo, poet & philosopher.

flower duet protea flower arranging