Recent Photographic Tour of His Garden
by Phil Bergman
28 August, 2015 (since the garden tour below)
It saddens me to announce the passing of another palm legend, Mardi Darian of Vista, California. Many have known Mardi for decades. In fact, we just had a tour of his garden by the PSSC in early July of this year. Unfortunately, on this past Tuesday, 25 August, Mardi died. He was 82 years old. I found out about his passing from his wife, Cherie. He passed away in peace with no pain.
Mardi was best known for his knowledge of the palms of Madagascar. He made a total of eleven trips to that island over several decades to study its palms. He was influential in describing species that were later formally named by palm taxonomists. In fact, one very exotic Madagascar species, Marojejya darianii, was named after him. After his many trips, he returned with seeds of countless species for germination and later introduction into his and other enthusiast’s gardens. The palms of Madagascar was one of his greatest passions.
He started his 3.5 acre garden in Vista in the early to mid-sixties of last century. Area by area, sometimes with the usage of dynamite and land excavators, he added more and more garden space until he had achieved one the most renowned gardens in the country. It not only had palms form Madagascar, but also many rare species from around the world. On the trunks of his overhead trees he artistically added epiphytic plants including orchids, bromeliads, ferns and other exotic plants. Around every bend in the garden were more surprises. We have few gardens (even botanical gardens) that rival what he created around his home. And, with age, many of these rare palm species now tower overhead.
I have known Mardi for about thirty years. He has been a speaker for the Palm Society on multiple occasions and hosted our Society into his garden several times. All attendees have been amazed at the beauty and pure creativity of his garden. As a person Mardi was indeed unique and overtly displayed his passion for the palms. All agreed that, in his own right, he was an true expert and lover of palm trees and plants in general. His wife Cherie, described him as the most honest many she’s ever known. She said “plants were his life”. I am so thankful that we toured his garden last month. Something told me that we “had to do it now”. And, he was there to enjoy and appreciate everyone that came on that tropical, rainy day. I have posted pictures elsewhere of his garden and that visit.
Mardi is survived by his wife Cherie and three children: Glenda, Michelle and Gerard.
All will miss him dearly.
San Diego, CA
THE TROPICAL GARDEN OF MARDI AND CHERI DARIAN
LOCATED IN VISTA, CALIFORNIA
A MASTERPIECE OF DESIGN
On July 18, members of the Palm Society of Southern California were fortunate enough to visit the famous garden of one of the real pioneers in the world of palms, particular rare palms from Madagascar. Dr. Mardi Darian’s garden is located on top of a hill in Vista, CA and has ideal weather with warm summer breezes and rarely a freeze in winter. This is a very large garden on 3.5 acres of rich, well draining soil. Mardi started his work on the garden approximately sixty years ago and has literally hundreds of different species of palms thriving. And, there’s also a very nice collection of cycads and tropical companion plants, many mounted on tree trunks as shown here. It’s amazing how approximately 150 attendees just disappeared into this vast garden. It took the average person about three hours to tour the garden grounds. All were marveled at the aesthetics and appeal of Mardi’s decades long project.
The point of this presentation is not to identify individual rare palms. Rather, I want to show you Dr. Darian’s mastering of garden design. As you meander through the endless pathways, you come to notice that around ever corner throughout the garden there are beautifully grown palms and cycads and then even more surprises. There’s something different and new at every turn. The plants you see are surrounded by attractive and curious tropical plants of every variety. He is a genius at presenting his well grown rare palm species species. There are many areas of towering canopy trees with mid and lower level plantings as well. Rarity of species abounds! Tree trunks and the garden floor are loaded with colorful bromeliads, ferns, staghorns, orchids, Philodendron, Alocasia and a vast assortment of other plants. Please view these pictures with the concept in mind of a well designed tropical garden. Another day we can discuss species. But, for now, just enjoy the garden’s beauty. You’ll not see many gardens like this anywhere and rapidly realize how this has been his life’s achievement. Well done Dr. Darian.