The Garden Writings of Hortense Miller

by Hortense Miller, Pub. 2008


Paperback, 140 pages, pictorial cover, line drawings with the essays. This new 2008 edition has a new cover and introduction.

Books may be purchased from the Friends for $15 when visiting the Garden or by sending $18 ($15 for the book plus $3 postage) to the Friends of the Hortense Miller Garden. Make your check payable to "Friends of HMG" and mail it to Hortense Miller Garden, P.O. Box 742, Laguna Beach, CA 92652. Please be sure to include the address that you would like your book mailed to. We will be happy to mail a gift copy of the book to the recipient of your choice, just let us know.


A Garden in Laguna

by Hortense Miller, Pub. 2002

This book is available directly from the Friends of the Hortense Miller Garden for $38. Mail your check, made payable to "Friends of HMG" for $35 plus $3 shipping to Friends of the Hortense Miller Garden,  P.O. Box 742, Laguna Beach, CA 92652.  If you would like to order with a credit card, the book is available from a local publisher. Go to, click on "Shopping Cart" and then look for the book "A Garden in Laguna." 

This lavish 7-by-10-inch book collects more than 23 years of essays and includes 16 full-color pages of exquisite photographs by Steven Gunther. 
Cloth, limited edition: $35. ISBN 0-9713337-0-X. 

The selected garden writings of Hortense Miller, the legendary green woman of Laguna Beach, are collected in a beautiful book which reflects the unique charm of this garden in the heart of Laguna. Included are essays on both Hortense Miller's life and her garden. One could have no interest in gardening and still find pleasure in this spontaneous writing, permeated as it is with the charm of a remarkable personality.  

Queen of the world-famous vertical garden planted on the steep eastern slope of Boat Canyon, Hortense Miller, now 93 years old, is one of the treasures of artistic Laguna Beach. Her garden notes, covering the years from 1978 to the present, are as distinctive for their historical allusions as for their scientific precision--one is as likely to learn something about Charlemagne and Cleopatra as about the unexpected gifts of a fire or the essences of vines and ravens. Hortense Miller invites us into her world of plants and animals with spontaneous revelations. Her style is simple, lucid, and elastic--very midwestern in its unpretentiousness--her erudition worn lightly. She is one with her subject, and the overall effect is the feeling of a fresh breeze and the smell of newly-turned earth. Accompanying the text is a biographical essay on Hortense and sixteen pages of beautiful color photographs by Steven Gunther, a landscape photographer well-known for his work in Sunset magazine.








A Selection from the Newsletter of 
the Friends of the Hortense Miller Garden

Tanacetum "Beth Chatto" (Hyppolita)
(photo copyright Monterey Bay Nursery, Inc.)

Queen of the Amazons
by Hortense Miller

This plant has recently been renamed.  It used to be a Tanacetum, a tansy, which you may remember for its flat-topped cluster of yellow buttons and its good color.  This is an old-time garden plant that probably still exists in gardens in the east.  We had it here many years ago for old time's sake.

Now here's this cousin of tansy who has received the name Hippolyta.  Its variety name is "Beth Chatto" after the distinguished English gardener.  The reasons behind the names of plants is generally interesting.  Did Beth Chatto develop this plant and name it after the Queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta?  They didn't use to name plants after women.  A few titled and rich women did get plants named after them - Queen Victoria, Lady Clive, Lady Amherst, Princess of Strelitz, Josephine Lapagerie - and there's one exception, artemesia, although we don't know whether it's named for the goddess or the Queen.  And then, a lone standout - The Furbish lousewort - named after Miss Furbish, a New England Botanist of the last century.  It's not so poor a wildflower (although I know it only by a picture) and I'd guess it doesn't discourage or encourage lice, despite its name.  Miss Furbish stands proudly alone.

Hippolyta's girdle was the ninth labor of Hercules.  He was to steal it.  She received him courteously and offered to give him the girdle. But Hera (how the Greeks hated Hera - she never gets a break) told the Amazons that Hercules would kidnap their Queen, so they started a fight and Hercules killed Hippolyta.

I hope her namesake makes it in the Garden. She has silvery leaves, very finely cut in beautiful little bunches; the entire plant could be covered with two hands. I have not yet had one strike.

Hippolyta is under the ashy eucalyptus, next to the path as you approach the house. I do not anticipate that she will grow up to be muscular, good at shooting arrows.

January 1998




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Last update 11/01/08

All text and images copyright
Friends of the Hortense Miller Garden, 2004
 except as noted.