Freeland & Sabrina Tanner’s Unforgettable Garden

As a designer and garden writer, I’ve been so fortunate to have met so many incredible people with unforgettable gardens.

I believe a garden is an expression of the gardener’s soul – the result of the blood, sweat, and tears that went into its creation.

You know that feeling when you walk into a garden, and you’re caught off guard, heart pounding?  That’s the garden’s soul, and it’s something that can’t be duplicated.

I’d like to introduce you to an amazing, creative, powerhouse couple – Freeland and Sabrina Tanner of Napa, California.

Both are professional landscape designers, and whether you realize it or not you’ve most likely seen their designs featured in countless garden magazines.

What I appreciate most about the Tanners is:

1) their boundless energy

2) their humble nature and generous spirit, and

3) the sheer talent that oozes from every pore in their body (more about that later).


Seriously – these two do it ALL.

They tend their garden by themselves (yep, that’s right – no team of gardeners who swoop in and do the hard stuff).

And for them, it’s truly a labor of love.

The property has been in Freeland’s family for several generations.  Strolling through the garden, under the trees his grandfather planted years ago, you can’t help but feel the garden’s energy.


To enter the front garden, you’ll pass through my favorite gate in the whole world – made by Freeland, of course.

The front garden consists of a series of raised vegetable beds made of local fieldstone.  Dotting various beds are towering green tuteurs (again, made by Freeland.)

This is not your typical front garden, but one that’s both edible and stunningly beautiful at the same time.

Not an easy feat!


Past the cypress arbor, pathways meander to the central rear garden, which I like to call ‘Tanner’s World.’

This magical world consists of one garden room after another, each with its own distinct charm, and each masterfully created.

Around the bend and through the next gate, is a hidden, somewhat secret area – the potager.

Standing there, you’ll realize you might be a character in a Beatrix Potter story.

And, of course, it wouldn’t be complete without the cutest tool shed you’ve ever seen, now would it?  And yes, there’s also a resident bunny and chicken.

Ready to have your mind blown again?  Click here to read about the new, amazing addition to this part of their garden.


Follow the winding crunchy gravel pathway out of the potager, and you’ll discover another  hidden, charming seating area (yep – another creation of Freeland’s.)

Everywhere you look is another vignette, another pathway to follow, another view to take in.

Tucked in among the garden beds are some of the most incredible containers I’ve ever seen (click here to see for yourself!)


At last, the clipped lawn pathway leads to the stunning focal point of their garden – their home.

This part of the garden has a different feel than the others.

Perhaps a little more formal (thanks to the clipped hedges), yet a bit informal at the same time (thanks to the billowing shrubs within the borders.)

And, as if the garden itself isn’t enough, there’s also the Tanners’ collections.

Throughout the garden, are groupings of watering cans, vintage lawn sprinklers, garden tools, all artfully placed ‘just so.’

And just when you think you may have seen it all, you’re hit with a whole other side of Freeland. At this point, you may want to get a refill on your coffee before continuing – it gets even better!

Not only are the Tanners talented designers, but Freeland is equally at home in his woodshop.

He’s a renowned artist and one of the few people in the world who creates tramp art.

His pieces are so remarkable that they’ve been in various museums and art shows around the country.

I was treated to a behind-the-scenes look as to what goes into creating his art.

What I love most about these pieces is it blends his love of nature into yet another stunning art form.  Each piece is made with over 5,000 pieces of wood – and thousands and thousands of hand-carved notches. 

These pieces are so intricately carved that I’ve tried to show you a few of their complete images, with lots of close-ups.  You’ll notice that several pieces have hearts – lots and lots of hearts.  And birds, and flowers, and most other elements of nature.

Most have one or more hidden compartments within each piece.  Boxes here, pull out drawers there – you never know what you’re going to find when you start taking a closer look.

Everywhere you look in his workshop are half-finished pieces just waiting for Freeland’s attention.

He prefers working on several at once, so he doesn’t get bored.  BORED???

Patience is a crucial ingredient in nurturing a garden, as well as creating such stand-alone works of art. I found this little box sitting on a table and thought it summed up the Tanners to a tee.

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  • Wonderful Wood carving!!! What kind of paint did you use on the last one? And also what impressive work you have done on your garden! This is truly amazing picture! Thanks for posting all of them to give us some ideas!

  • Hi Rebecca, I sow an episode on hgtv the Gardener’s diary about this beautiful couple Sabrina and Freelan Tanner in their garden. The episode was call ” Napa Denign garden” and in their garden they show that they have this beautiful red climbing rose against a fence. I would like to know what’s the name of that climbing red rose? They said it blooms almost all the time. I found the article about their garden but it doesn’t mention the name of that red climbing rose.
    Thanks so much and I’ ll be waiting for your response.


    • Hi Reina, I’ll pass your request on to them and hopefully get a response soon. As soon as I do, I’ll relay it to you!

    • Hi Reina – I heard back from Sabrina re: the rose and here’s her reply: “I believe the climbing rose is a small red rose named “Chevy Chase”. I does, however, only bloom in the spring for about 6 to 8 weeks, depending on the weather situation that spring.”

  • wow. how amazing. thank you for sharing this. Freedland’s art and their gardens really do look like they came from the same artist. So much attention to detail and making things ‘sing’ in their beauty.

  • Rebecca: What a lovely garden… from the metal gate to the gardens mixed with edibles and ornamentals. Thanks for such a delightful garden tour. There were lots of good ideas to take away from this one… All the best, Teresa

  • I’m so in love with that gate. Matter of fact I love all the metalwork they have included in the garden. The width of the metal in the towers and that lovely green color throughout is so beautiful.

  • Love the idea for the series, and this inaugural post is just spectacular. The Tanners have it all — amazing garden structures, woodwork, great eye for planting. Thanks, Rebecca.

    • Thanks Denise – glad you stopped by! Yes, they have it all – including a great spirit!

  • How wonderful to create a garden within the ‘bones’ of your families’ gardening history…a true legacy for the future. How large is this property? I get the impression it is much smaller than it looks?
    Thank you for sharing it with us

    • Their property is 1 acre, fully landscaped. Because of the way it’s laid out, though, it seems much bigger and you could spend HOURS there wandering from ‘room to room’…glad you enjoyed it!

  • Wow. One of the most interesting gardens I’ve seen in a long time. I would want to live smack dab in the middle of the Beatrix Potter part though, rather than in the more formal area. And what is that white-leaved plant next to the conical conifer? Drool!

    • Hi Kelly – I’d like to live there, too – just curl up in that little potting shed! That white-leaved plant is a Fallopia japonica ‘variegata’ (and they’re holding one for me because I loved theirs so much – yippee!).

  • What an amazing garden! I’m blown away that they care for it all themselves. In addition to the amazing structures, sculptures and collections, it seems like they are getting a lot of beautiful, colorful effects from shrubs and grasses – I didn’t notice many flowers. Is that a reflection of the time of year? Because if not, it really shows that flowers can be just one tiny element of a successful garden – if you’ve got the talent and the commitment to pull it off.

  • The garden structures and hardscape really add to the magic, don’t they? Just like the studio in your own garden, they offer a destination and vouch for the fact that this is an inhabited garden, rather than one merely for show. The peaked roofs hearken to fairy tales and pull from visitors childlike wonder. His woodworking is amazing, too. I’m glad you took so many photos!

    • Thank you Debra – you’re absolutely right – this garden creates a childlike wonder in everyone who sees it.

  • Your tour of the Tanners’ home and garden is breathtaking. Now I can put the name with exceptional images of their personal space next time I run into one of their design projects.
    Thanks, Rebecca!
    xo Alice

  • What an incredible garden and incredible gardeners. It’s all just breath-takingly beautiful. I’d love to spend a couple days just wandering around. So inspiring.

  • I enlarged and studied the details of each and every photo. You definitely have my attention. Rebecca, I don’t know how you can top the artistry and charm of the Tanner’s garden but i am eagerly awaiting part II of your series.

    • Thank you so much, for your comment. I sure hope I can live up to this post’s success! The next featured will certainly have some pretty big shoes to fill!

  • I’M DEAD!!! Another beauty overdose courtesy of Sweetest Rebecca!
    It is just TOO incredible – this is the kind of garden that inspired me to garden in the first place! When I started opening my eyes to the fact that some people were creating WORLDS in their gardens, I wanted a piece of that!!!
    This garden beautifully illustrates all of the tenants of good design, but it adds something else – the magic. You explain it so well … it is a spirit that is unique to this place, and is so well done that it transcends any attempt to categorize it. So fantastic, and you unfolded it for us so well!
    Thank you DOLL!!! Extra BIG thank you’s!!!

    • Thanks Germi, DP, Charlotte, Townie, Annie and the rest – you’ve all been so generous with your compliments and believe me, it makes me so unbelievably happy that you’ve enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it! Thank you all SO much. MWAH!!!

  • That’s pretty incredible, and also so encouraging. Some people think you can only have a beautiful garden if you have a big staff ready to do your bidding. It’s clear what you really need is passion — and a willingness to do what needs to be done.

    Great post!

  • Oh my gosh, this in INSANE. I hardly even know where to start commenting. The Cypress Arbor was the first thing to make me swoon, then their foliage combinations and their good use of containers in the garden…

    And then his ART! Amazing. I have trouble comprehending how it’s all put together, but wow oh wow. It’s spellbinding.

    Thanks for the tour into the Tanners’ garden and work. Beautiful.

    • Thanks Gen, Pam, Angela and Eileen – it’s truly an incredible place and I’m so glad you got a little ‘taste’ of this gem through my post! I wish you all could see it in person, though, as I’m sure it would touch your soul as it did mine….thanks for stopping by!

  • Eileen is right. What a magical and extraordinary garden. A perfect marriage of plants and hardscape, with the personal touches that make it uniquely theirs. I like how they tied all the woodwork together with that blue-green paint color. Thanks for giving us a tour!

  • Rebecca, what a magical place. I think you are on the mark about Beatrix Potter, I thought I saw Peter and his cousin Benjamin and Squirrel Nutkin all scurrying around the Tanner’s property!

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful place with all of us.



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