I’m re-writing this post (originally written over 12 years ago!) to introduce my newer readers to the unforgettable garden of Freeland and Sabrina Tanner.
After a several-year absence, I recently revisited this garden, and while I didn’t think it was possible to get any better than it was – boy was I wrong.
There are SO many changes to this garden that it warrants a brand new post.
As a landscape designer and garden writer, I’ve been fortunate to have met many talented people with exceptional gardens.
What makes a garden exceptional?
To me, breathtaking gardens are those that cause your heart to skip a beat.
Time slows down as you find yourself taking in every little detail.
You know you’re someplace special.
I believe this is a result of the garden’s soul, which is a direct reflection of the gardener who created it, and it’s something that can’t be duplicated.
So, with that, I’d like to introduce you to the most unforgettable garden I’ve ever seen, created by my dear friends-Freeland and Sabrina Tanner of Napa, California.
When talking with Freeland about the different roles each of them plays in the garden, this is what he said:
“When it comes to planting, we banter back and forth about what goes where. But, Sabrina usually wins – Happy Wife, Happy Life!
Structures, however, are my creations. Then, I have to sell the idea to Sabrina, who then helps finesse the final placement within the garden.”
Freeland grew up on this 1-acre property, having been in their family for several generations.
Strolling through the garden under the towering trees his grandfather planted decades ago, you can’t help but feel the garden’s energy.
According to Freeland:
“A garden should be a series of events that unfold as you walk thru the pathways. The eye gets tired if you see too much of one thing.”
This statement is especially true when designing a large garden.
When visiting their 1-acre garden, you’ll be taken on a journey, meandering through and around various garden rooms.
Therefore, to make it easier to understand the flow of this garden, I’ll guide you through each of the ‘rooms.’
Guest House Vegetable Garden
Upon entering their garden, you’ll first pass through a garden tool gate, made by Freeland.
One of my favorite gates ever, this leads directly into the Guest House Vegetable Garden.
A trio of towering green tuteurs (also made by Freeland) is the focal point of each raised bed, supporting a variety of climbing vegetables.
(Click here to learn the difference between a tuteur, obelisk, and trellis.)
A flagstone pathway, flanked on each side by espaliered apple trees, leads to a garden bench.
Surrounding the central raised beds are lush, deep, and wide borders filled with a dazzling array of perennials, succulents, and colorful shrubs.
This is not your typical front garden, but one that’s both edible and stunningly beautiful at the same time.
Not an easy feat!
Welcome to the Hybrid Greenhouse!
When Covid struck and the world shut down, Freeland and Sabrina transformed an out-of-the-way corner of their garden into a showpiece.
This Hybrid Greenhouse is a multi-purpose space, not only serving as a functioning greenhouse (complete with an all-glass, open cupola) but also as a magical setting for outdoor dinner parties.
Take a look below at just a few of the close-ups that show the level of detail Freeland has put into this structure.
The Parthenon (aka: the outdoor kitchen)
The Cutting Garden
The Tapestry Border
French Wedding Pavilion
A cascading ‘Purple Fountain’ beech tree acts as a curtain, providing just a peek of the French Wedding Pavilion.
Freeland first saw this pavilion several years ago in a French magazine.
He quickly snapped a picture of the image, and using it as inspiration, created this one for his garden.
This pavilion is an example of a ‘garden folly’, which according to Wikipedia, is defined as:
…’a building constructed primarily for decoration…of such extravagant appearance that it transcends the range of usual garden buildings.’
In this garden, ‘transcends‘ is an understatement!
While talking with Freeland, this is how he explained his inspiration for these creations:
“For me, it all starts with Nature. Everything I make is basically the end product of a thought based on Nature.
Everything evolves from Nature – the shapes, the forms, everything. For example, the bell-shaped roofs are like an upside-down hollyhock flower.”
Take a look below at other garden follies Freeland has created for his garden:
And last, but certainly not least, are the inspirational containers created by Freeland and Sabrina.
Succulents, edibles, bromeliads, perennials – anything’s fair game for one of their magical combinations.
For more examples of their containers and how they tuck them in here and there throughout the garden, click here.
And with that, we’ve come to the end of the tour. I hope you enjoyed seeing this treasure of a garden that’s near and dear to my heart.