Pankey house features 268-year-old sycamore

by Juanita Lovret
Reprinted courtesy of the Tustin News

Canary Island palms stand guard in the front garden at the Edgar Pankey family home
 on Main Street. Many exotic trees and plants complement the Monterey Revival
 architecture of this stucco-clad residence

The gardens surrounding the Edgar Pankey family residence at 320 Main St., southwest corner of Main and B, are ample proof of why Tustin is the “City of Trees.”

The front yard is landscaped with trees planted by W. D. Allen, first owner of the property, as well as exotic trees and plants popular when the replacement Monterey Revival home was built for Will Ferrey in 1928. The backyard in contrast shows the influence of Allen, who owned the original orchard and lived there in a two-story frame house built before 1900, and the Pankey family which has farmed in the Tustin area since the late 1800s.

As you stand on the sidewalk in front of the house, you see a magnolia estimated to be over 100 years old on the east side, just beyond the driveway fence, balancing a 70-year-old Norfolk Island pine on the west side of the residence. Three Canary Island date palms and a Coast redwood complete the tree front planting.

A boxwood hedge on the B Street side of the yard provides a background accent for colorful day lilies, bird of paradise, dusty miller, impatiens and begonia as well as a woodwardia fern. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow, a plant blossoming with large blue flowers, shooting stars, maiden hair fern, scheflera and split philodendron surround the front entrance.

Additional day lilies, clivia, aralia, camellias, nandina, rapheolepsis, begonias, impatiens, Mexican heather, iceberg roses, gardenias and columbine planted against the green of a maidenhair fern thought to be over 60 years old and sword ferns add color on the west side.

Walking along B Street to the gated driveway, you are in the shade of Casuarina trees. You enter the gate under a large Camphor tree. and continue up the drive to a portecochere which extends across the drive near the dining room windows. A dwarf date palm, a Sego palm-cycadaceae and an aralia thrive here.

It is a surprise to find a native California sycamore estimated to be 268 years old near the garages because only the highest of its branches shows over the house . This sycamore is one of the few remaining from the time when Columbus Tustin purchased the rancho property that became Tustin.

A small avocado grove, several citrus trees including a kumquat, and a loquat tree by the back fence are reminders of the time when Tustin was an agricultural community and the Pankeys were farmers. Agave succulents surround the rear entrance to the home which has walls 18 to 24 inches thick. Lumber from the original home occupying the property was used by builder Guy Bolard in many places, including for the newel post on the staircase to second floor.

A large family-size swimming pool and a comfortable, shaded patio make the commodious backyard a wonderful place for everyday living as well as entertaining large groups.


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