Showing by category: Gardeners and their Gardens

Texture reigns supreme in the Testa-Vought garden
Welcome to Andrea Testa-Vought's garden, a textural paradise designed by the amazing Bernard Trainor. As you'll see, this garden is truly a feast for the eyes.  But more importantly, it's also a lesson in the subtle but powerful effects texture can have in the garden. I first visited this garden in December, on what was one of the coldest days of the year.  After experiencing a week of unrelenting, below-freezing temperatures, I thought Andrea's garden might look a little worse for wear.  But as you can see from this photo, that wasn't the case at all. While I appreciate the read more
Shades of Gray in a No-Lawn Front Garden
I'm thrilled to announce that one of the gardens I designed for a client is featured in this month's Sunset magazine (if you don't subscribe, you can read about it here in their online version). While the folks at Sunset did a fantastic job capturing the drought-tolerant aspects of this garden (the homeowners reduced their water bill by 40%!) I thought I'd go into a little more detail about using the very-gray colored Dymondia margaretae as a lawn substitute, and the tricks I use to keep the color looking lush. But first, a little background and a few before & afters... read more
Transforming a side yard from Blah to Beautiful
In honor of my new book, Refresh Your Garden Design, I'll be spending the next few months writing about the many different aspects of color, texture and form.  Whether its gardeners I've met who have embraced these design principles to the fullest, simple solutions you can use to transform your own garden, or perhaps  specific plants that serve double (or even triple!) duty in the landscape - my goal will be to inspire while showing how the smallest changes can have a lasting impact. I'm pleased to introduce you to one of my favorite gardeners, and very good friend, Lisa read more
Mixing flowers and succulents
There's no doubt about it, Debra Lee Baldwin certainly knows her succulents.  But when visiting her Escondido, CA garden again a few months ago, I was struck by something else - the flowers.  Not the flowers of succulents (which are amazing enough), but regular ol' perennial, annual and native flowers that casually grow throughout the garden. My very favorite gardens tend to have a creative and unusual mix of 'styles', filled with unexpected, unique and breathtaking touches - which is one of the reasons why I love Debra's garden so much. Yes, she's known as an expert and authoritative figure read more
This month my office is being featured in Sunset Magazine (my copy just came in the mail yesterday and I’m so excited I can hardly breathe!) I’ve literally grown up with Sunset in the house, whether it was magazines, how-to or garden books lying around my mother’s and grandmother’s house.  So imagine the pride that I feel seeing one of the most meaningful places in my life featured right there on page 49!     And imagine how honored I am to have one of my close friends, and someone whom I greatly admire, Debra Lee Baldwin, read more
A Colorful Garden in Tucson
While visiting Arizona last month I couldn't wait to tour a few private gardens to see first-hand how these determined and creative gardeners deal with All. That. Heat. Driving through Tucson's wide suburban streets, where the homes and landscaping tend to blend together, my heart skipped a beat when I noticed this garden's 'fence'. Not your typical suburban garden. Welcome to Alan Richard's colorful paradise!   Walk inside the front courtyard and you're immediately hit with a blast of brilliant color. Not just any color, but deep, rich shades that counteract the sun's tendency to create a sea of washed read more
I've been wanting to write about this garden for a long time, and have finally found the perfect opportunity with today's Garden Designers Roundtable topic 'Focusing on the Details'.  (Warning:  lots of photos for this one!) While touring gardens last year with Debra Lee Baldwin, she insisted I meet her good friend, Jim Bishop.  And, if I was really lucky, I might even get to see his garden.  Thank heavens it was my lucky day.  Jim Bishop is pretty amazing - he's not only an incredibly talented garden designer, but he's also the President of the San Diego Horticulture Society. read more
One thing I've noticed about many areas of Los Angeles is that if someone is lucky enough to have a garden at all, quite often it's located in front of the house.  The houses either back up into the surrounding hillsides, or are on super tiny lots with neighboring houses crowding them on all sides. The front is sometimes the only place to find space and/or sunshine for a garden. One of my very favorite surprises is a garden located on a corner of a very busy street, with cars and buses whizzing by at all hours. I couldn't read more
For the next few weeks I'd like to invite you to join me on my adventure in Los Angeles.  West Hollywood, to be exact.  Why am I here?  My daughter and I are touring colleges and getting to know the town she'll call home in a year. What’s that have to do with gardening, you may ask?  Not much, really.  Except that, as you no doubt already know, a gardener can’t really go anywhere without noticing the plants and gardens around them. I’m probably the only tourist in Hollywood who takes more pictures of plants than actors. read more
In this month's Garden Designers Roundtable, we have the honor of writing about our own personal gardens. While this may seem like an easy post to write, it’s actually been quite difficult for me.   How can I possibly share my garden with you in a way that conveys all that it means to me? While trying to think about what I'd write I was suddenly overtaken by the need to lie down on my soft and comfy patio sofa for a while to take a nap  help me think. As I lay there with my eyes closed, I could read more
My brother is moving this week, and while it's always exciting to move on in life, it can also be very bittersweet.  He had a large, beautiful garden but I think my favorite part of it was the potting shed tucked in the far corner. While his family was busy at their new home, unpacking and trying to make order of their new surroundings, I spent a quiet evening in their garden  saying goodbye. (more…) read more
The topic for this month's Garden Designers Roundtable is Garden Travel/Best Gardens.  While I immediately thought of the many beautiful gardens I've seen on my travels, there's one that I've recently had the pleasure of visiting, and one that I can't get out of my mind.  It's a private garden here in Northern California, created by Jarrod Baumann, a most talented young landscape architect with his firm Zaterre Landscape Architecture. (more…) read more
One of the benefits of speaking at different garden clubs is the chance to meet their members and visit their beautiful gardens.  One such person is Bonnie Manion, whom I met at the La Jolla Village Garden Club last fall. After a morning of touring gardens, we ended our day at Bonnie's home where we enjoyed a relaxing afternoon in her vineyard.  Part of the fun was meeting her two chickens, Charley (short for Charlotte) and Dahlia. (more…) read more
Lani Freymiller has created one of the most incredible gardens I've ever seen (read more about it here).  Her garden is filled with countless design concepts and creative ideas. So many, in fact, that instead of writing the world's longest post I've decided to write several shorter ones and post them throughout the year. This is one of them. (more…) read more
Have you ever toured a garden, when the moment you stepped through the front gate you were instantly transported to another time and place?  That was the case with Lecia Davis's magnificent garden in Laguna Beach, California. I had the opportunity to visit this exquisite garden a few weeks ago and was completely caught off guard.  I lived in Laguna Beach 18 years ago, and had forgotten just how beautiful this area is. Lecia's home and garden reminded me of something you'd see in the hills of Tuscany.  While she did have help from a very talented landscape designer, Lecia read more
Lani Freymiller’s Garden – Green and Serene
As part of my ongoing series, Gardeners and their Gardens, I'd like to introduce you to a garden I visited a few months ago in southern California. I believe each garden is an expression of its creator's soul, and that if you pay attention, you can literally feel the blood, sweat and tears that went into it’s creation.  You know that feeling when you walk into a garden, no matter how large or small it is, and you’re taken by surprise, completely caught off guard by the feeling it stirs deep within you?  That’s its soul, and read more
A few weeks ago I was a lucky, lucky girl and had the distinct honor of touring Debra Lee Baldwin's own garden - and what a garden it was! Debra is known by many as the 'Queen of Succulents', thanks to her amazing books, Succulent Container Gardens and Designing with Succulents and the many talks and presentations she gives all over the country. So while I assumed her garden would be fabulous... I wasn't prepared for just how fabulous it was! (more…) read more
I don't think I've ever been as rude to another designer as I was when I saw this garden. A few weeks ago I visited my good friend Debra Lee Baldwin who graciously introduced me to a wonderful landscape designer, Frank Mitzel of Aesthetic Design.   Frank kindly took us to see a garden that he and fellow designer and contractor Randy Laurie created in the Mission Hills district. After meeting Frank in front of the house and exchanging a little small talk, he led us around the side of the house.  It was at this point that all manners left read more
Having spent a delightful morning touring the San Diego Botanical Garden last week, I must admit I was most smitten by these life-size topiaries.  Pat Hammer, Director of Operations of the Botanical Garden, created these incredible works of art, going so far as making clay masks of some of the members of the garden and Horticultural Society to use as their faces! Amazing, don't you think?   read more
A few weeks ago I paid a visit to Baylor Chapman, at her gorgeous floral studio Lila B. Design.  While I've written about her shop before (you can read it here), this time I'm writing about the building across the street.  Yep, it's the giant green one which you can see out of her storefront window. The building is called The Allied Box Factory, and Baylor just so happens to live there. It's one of the great old timber buildings of San Francisco, that's been converted into an artists live-work space. Originally built in 1907 as the Allied Box & read more
My friends, Michelle and Rob, have the cutest tool shed ever! Just this year, Rob built this for Michelle out of materials he salvaged either on their property or elsewhere around town - truly a labor of love. I  love how it tucks in so nicely within the beautiful perennial bed instead of relegated to the back of the property to go unnoticed. But it's the details of this little building that make it look as if its been there forever, fitting right in with their beautiful old home and barn nearby... (more…) read more
I love all gardens. I don't think there's a single style that I don't appreciate.   And that's part of the charm of gardeners - we're all so different yet we all appreciate one another's passion.  Sometimes the differences are subtle, sometimes they're as opposite as night and day. But either way, part of the fun of discovering a garden is learning about the gardener who created it. This is the case with two gardens I had the pleasure of visiting this past weekend as part of a self-guided Santa Cruz garden tour.  While the gardens were about as polar read more
While visiting Dallas last week for the Garden Writers Association's annual symposium, one of the highlights of the week was touring many different gardens.  One of my very favorite gardens of all was created by garden designer Robert Bellamy.  Over the past 25 years, Robert has slowly acquired neighboring properties in Old East Dallas, ultimately creating a 'compound' where he lives, works and entertains year-round.  As well as being a gifted garden designer, he's also a talented artist, creating original art, mosaics, sculptures and water features for his garden.  But what really draws me to this particular space is his read more
  Okay, okay - by now most of you who have been reading my blog for any time now probably feel like they've personally strolled through Freeland and Sabrina Tanner's garden and have seen everything I could possibly show them, right? WRONG! Freeland is an amazing powerhouse of creativity and has just finished building two incredible sculptures made from his collection of antique sprinklers, a few hoses and some rebar.  They're  the perfect additions to their potager, adding a bit of humor and personality to an already fascinating garden. Does this man's brain ever sleep? . . My favorite is read more
Another visit to Freeland and Sabrina Tanner's Napa Valley garden last weekend provided me with another feast of visual delights.  This time in the form of the many different containers throughout their garden - each one brimming with unusual plants, each one a mini work of art. Enjoy! (more…) read more
One of the perks that goes along with being a garden writer is the chance to meet the most amazing gardeners. Visiting these gardens are always such a treat, as I feel like I'm getting a sneak peek into the gardener's soul.  You can almost feel the blood, sweat and tears that went into the garden's creation.   I'd like to share some of these people and their gardens with you as part of a series I've created, called Gardeners and their Gardens.  Some of my guests are professional gardeners, some are not.  But all have their hearts firmly planted in read more
One of my favorite things about being a passionate gardener myself is getting to meet other passionate gardeners.  I've been so lucky to have met so many incredible people, and then when I see their gardens I'm even MORE amazed. A gardener's own garden is truly an expression of their soul.  And you can literally 'feel' the blood, sweat and tears that went into it's creation.  You know that feeling when you walk into a garden, no matter how large or small it is - and you're just taken by surprise, blown away by the 'feeling' it generates deep within read more