High on a hillside above the sea in Laguna Beach, this garden made good use of the local stone on site for walls and steps. It is planted with low water use plants from the Mediterranean and California. The rustic paths are of decomposed granite and pea gravel.
This English style estate in San Juan Capistrano, on almost two acres, is like being far off in the countryside. It is quite a floriferous garden with all the classics such as roses, hydrangeas, iris and camellia. Because the property had extensive turf areas, I felt I had to mitigate the high water consumption of the grass areas by including an area of California native plants with their low water needs. The dominant feature of the native garden area was an existing Coast Live Oak. It was underplanted with ground cover Ceanothus, and the remaining areas were planted with Carpenteria, Mimulus, Island Bush Snapdragon, Salvia, and Matilija Poppy. This native garden area was about 5,000 SF, the size of an average city lot.
Olives, Laurel, Cypress,and Rosemary an Italian garden make. Don't forget to add potted lemons! The original design for this garden by another called for weeping willows which just did not seem right to me for an Italian themed house. I redesigned it to make it compatible with the design of the house and site. As you can see, much of the garden is a shallow roof garden over the garage. High water use plants were not a good idea in that situation.
The owner of this ocean front house had lived for years in Sri Lanka and Hawaii, and now back on the California coast wanted to turn the garden into a tropical hideaway. Red Banana, Black Taro, Ginger, and Kentia palms gave the flavor needed. The paving is buckskin Arizona flagstone. Additional plants used were Begonia 'Paul Hernandez', Vriesia and other bromeliads, Angels Trumpet, Philodendron 'Xanaduu' and Heliconia. A few succulents here and there were thrown in for an exotic look.
On a street made famous by the Beatle's, Blue Jay Way, sits this cottage above the swank Sunset Plaza district of LA. A cut in the hillside offers a slender perch for this classic house and garden high above the city. The view was panoramic from downtown to the Pacific. The garden was a simple planting of Boxwood, Ligustrum, and Evergreen Pear to line the driveway. Regular placement of iron urns gave symmetry, pattern, and a classic look. A couple of California Sycamores add a moody touch.
This very private property of one acre is located in the Oak Knoll neighborhood of Pasadena. Hillcrest Drive is a street filled with architectural gems from the early 20th century built by famous architects for the wealthy who wintered in Pasadena. The garden behind the house rolls down through a grassy and perennial filled planting to the flagstone patio surrounding the pool. A tall hedge at the bottom keeps you from tumbling into the steep sided arroyo below.
This small, simple, drought tolerant garden came out of an idea to save on work and water. It really does work. Warm toned Del Rio gravel, black Mexican pebbles, colorfully glazed pots, and succulents, make this dry garden come alive. A fountain, for a hint of water, keeps one from feeling parched. This is the California look of now.
It's just a small house hidden in the rolling coastal hills. A bit of England and a bit of California melded into one. While the house does have lawn areas and roses that need more water, there are also extensive areas of pea gravel for patio and paths. Gravel being a permeable paving material allows precious rainwater so soak into the ground, and helps to prevent excessive runoff from the property into storm drains.
Up a coastal valley, hidden in a fold in the hills lies this little gem of a garden. The classical elements of boxwood hedges, Ligustrum pyramids, teak benches, iron urns, and pea gravel make the front entry a garden room. The rear yard is planted with low water use plants-Aeonium, Agave, Citrus, Echium, Iris, Lavender, Salvia, and Lantana.
Here are some pools that I have designed and had installed, or were on a project and liked very much, and one I lived with for a week in Barbados.
California Native Garden
As a designer I was excited when the Niguel Botanical Preserve asked me to create a garden of California native plants. I was given a large, undeveloped site where I laid out the pathways and planting areas. It gently slopes to the east, but still gets quite a bit of sun. There were a few existing oaks around the perimeter which helped to give it a bit of maturity. It is a one acre display of the stunning plant diversity for which California is renowned. A grassland, oaks, and all my favorite perennials and groundcovers are part of the collection, even an area devoted to plants of the Channel Islands. It is a work in progress and my laboratory where I observe and experiment with native plants suitable for the garden.
These images begin with the initial grading of the paths in early spring 2011 and then show the placement of plants and their planting by volunteers on Earth Day of the same year. The remaining images are of different plants in their prime. It is amazing the growth that has occurred in just two years.
Ceanothus spinosus, a cloud of powder blue.
Initial construction of the garden,
Volunteers planting on Earth Day 2012
Grasses in containers placed for planting.
Volunteers planting the grassland.
Planting the grasses.
This is Stipa pulchra, our official state grass!
Path through the native garden of the Niguel Botanical Preserve.
Fremontodendron mexicanum with the Santa Ana mountains in the background
California Poppy's, Eschscholzia californica our state flower