Category Archives: secret gardens

Enclosed Cliffside Patio- before & after

Here’s some fun before & afters to look at. I won’t bore you with words- as they say, ” A picture’s worth…”





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Building a Dry Stack Stone Wall

Here’s proof that I don’t make others do all the labor! I actually really love building small walls, paths, patios, etc. myself. This was a fun project for an intimate courtyard right off a master bedroom. I had fun tucking tiny Sedums into the nooks. One side of the fence surrounding this garden is glass, allowing for a breathtaking view of the ocean.

Once the plants grow in, I think this will look quite nice!

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Annual Garden Party- 2010

Every late May/early June I have a garden party to share with my friends and family the abundance of blooms in my garden. It’s so floriferous at that time of year that if would be just plain selfish of me not to share! I recently came across some pictures from last year’s bash- where we served the best mint juleps ever!- and thought I would belatedly share with y’all.

Here’s the delightful Josie, sniffing the Italian parsley:

Judy and Leslie enjoy a chat amongst the heady blooms of Rosas ‘Buff Beauty’, ‘Lilian Austin’ and ‘Tamora’:

Taking a break from the crowd,

Emily and John find a seat with Rosa ‘Buff Beauty’

in the midst of clouds of Nicotiana mutabilis and Penstemon ‘Garnet’ (among others!).

If they sit still enough, a hummingbird is bound to come by!

Peeking out from the bed of roses is Rosa ‘Fantin Latour’,

bordered by peppermint scented geranium (Pelargonium tomentosa), already-bloomed Bearded Iris and Nepeta fasanii ‘Six Hills Giant’.

They look like they’re enjoying the aromatherapy…

It was a perfect day

to wear a hat,

talk with friends,

sip a mint julep,

smell the flowers

and relax in the garden!


Filed under food gardens, friends, me in the garden, personal, Roses, secret gardens

Finding Peace in your Garden

When you’re in your garden, do you feel peaceful? happy? at ease? inspired? possibly even invigorated? Or does being in, or thinking about, your garden bring up feelings of stress, anxiousness, guilt or avoidance for you?

These negative feelings can be caused by thinking that there’s so much to do that’s not getting done, or because you don’t like the way it looks- maybe it embarrasses you, or it simply doesn’t reflect your personality or sensibilities. I know at different times I’ve felt all of the above emotions in regard to my garden, though I’m lucky enough to have experienced the “good” emotions much more often because I’ve created an environment for myself that makes me happy on a very deep level.

Another reason I feel lucky is that I’ve had many opportunities to create such gratifying outdoor spaces for my clients. Since I only have one home (so far!) with a finite amount of garden, if my clients weren’t so accommodating, I would have to re-do my garden several times a year to be able to express this creative urge! So, because I’m one of the luckiest people in the world, I get to do what I LOVE- creating uniquely beautiful garden spaces for others- AND get paid for it! (Whoever thought of that was a genius.)

Getting some of these yummy good feelings from your own garden needn’t be a daunting task, if you don’t want it to be. Anything from reinventing your whole garden to carving out a small, secluded niche can deliver the goods. In fact, for many clients, I’ve drawn the garden of their dreams, to be ooh-ed and ahhh-ed and dreamed over until some future date when they could actually realize it. They’ve told me that even this- a drawing on a piece of paper- brought them a measure of peace and happiness.


Filed under jobs, secret gardens, Uncategorized, woodside rd

Aaand Another…

See my last two posts to understand the title of this one. I’ll make it short, but I just wanted to show you what I did with all those gorgeous plants I bought in Moss Landing. The site has full ocean exposure (about a mile inland) and very windy. I mixed the succulents with other really tough plants like Juniper, Leucodendron, Carex, Mugo Pine and Phormium. All the pots have drip irrigation and should do quite well. *crosses fingers*

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Jeff’s Chair

When I got married last September, my new husband moved into our 800 sq. ft. cottage that was already bursting with the bodies, belongings and energy of three females. He’s managed to shoe horn some of his furniture, knick-knacks and all of his clothing into this home, but I think he still feels like he doesn’t have many places that are just HIS.

Except for one.

He selected and bought this sweet blue chair at the Alameda Antiques Fair and has placed it in the sunniest spot in the garden. I can often find him in the afternoon, sitting here- his feet up on a small bench- reading or snoozing.

Sunny Sitting Spot

Completely surrounding his chair, starting with right in front and moving clock-wise, are Rosa ‘Buff Beauty’, ‘Madame Hardy’, ‘Graham Thomas'(on the fence), ‘Tamora’, ‘William Shakespeare’ and ‘Pat Austen’. I fear that in a month or so he won’t be able to find his chair , let alone sit in it!


Filed under me in the garden, Roses, secret gardens, Uncategorized

Filoli- Spring 2010

I took my daughters to visit the gardens at Filoli last week. The place never fails to inspire and uplift me. Even my 16 year old said, “We should come here more often. I love it here!”

Nothing says spring quite like these blushing apple blossoms!

It was my younger daughter, though, that wanted to be in all the pictures!

Looks like she likes Tulips!

I’ll leave you with these two last shots- one of some sweet pansies in a mossy antique pot:

…and this is a beautiful Camperdown Elm- just coming into bloom. 

Go to Filoli and see for yourself!

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Filed under garden tours, me in the garden, potted gardens, secret gardens, Uncategorized

Grow Food!

Kale in my garden-2009

The Kale we grew last year was so luscious and vigorous! It nourished us for over four months. Since I planted only three 6-packs, I think I got an excellent return on an investment of $7 total!

Raised beds in community garden

Every summer my daughters and I travel to Vancouver, B.C., where there is a beautiful, rambling, well-tended community garden that I’m lucky enough to get to work in. This is how it looked during the first week of August, 2009.


This image makes me LOVE what I do more than I usually do (which is A LOT). I want to dive into it and roll around! Luckily, I get to do just that in real life. It’s a corner of my friend’s garden where I get free reign to play with permaculture. The plants that grow food blend seamlessly with the ornamentals. Ahhh…

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Filed under friends, me in the garden, personal, secret gardens, Uncategorized, volunteer work

The Secret Garden

      There is a garden, that unless you get invited in, truly is a secret. It’s a few hundred yards from the North Sea, in Suffolk, England. As you walk or drive down the road, to your left is the North Sea and to the right is a dense, long privet (and other assorted shrubs & trees) hedge row. As one might expect, the landscape, as you look towards the sea, is is very sparse and windswept. Some gnarled shrubs and native shore plants- grasses and a wild brocolli (!) growing in the sea-polished pebbles. Towards the other side, one would never suspect what lay behind the hedge. I was lucky enough to know someone who knew someone and was treated to a tour of the secret garden. This first image (below) shows an open grassy area that is never mowed or watered. Wild bunnies (!) come in the early mornings and late evenings to munch on the  grass so often that they don’t have to mow! …and it rains here, rains so regularly that gardens stay really green without irrigation or regular hand watering. As a California native, this is such a foreign and amazing concept to me, I had a hard time wrapping my brain around it. You mean I could have a gorgeous garden and go away on vacation without having to arrange a rotating crew of waterers to keep my plants from withering up and dying?? I wouldn’t have to spend a fortune or feel guilty because I’m using a so much water?? I could have a lawn?? I think I would have fun creating a garden in England. (I would just have to make sure I got myself a crew of lawn munching bunnies!)inside the Secret Garden  



inside the Secret Garden

      The caretakers of the secret garden have an interesting hobby. The garden, which is a couple of acres, has many…I’ll call them…critter cams. They’re infrared, motion detecting cameras, set up near areas like, bird boxes, nests, bunny haunts and badger dens. They have made their garden extremely wildlife friendly- going to extremes such as building hay bale habitats for badgers and bringing them left-over bread from restaurants every day, to filling the countless bird feeders and birdbath every day with fresh food and water! All the cameras connect to a computer in the summer house where one could sit and watch video of last night’s badger bread raid or the blue bird sitting on her eggs inside her private (so she thinks!) bird box, if one was so inclined. It’s like a super high-tech security system, but for critters. It’s a little quirky (stalker!), but incredibly fun and addicting. Unfortunately, I had to leave before the eggs hatched!

gnarly apple trees

gnarly apple trees

      These old apple tree were overgrown with bramble bushes for so many years that the branches grew very long, with not much strength (being held up by the brambles). When they were cleared, and some of the branches just flopped to the ground, the gardeners couldn’t bear to prune away the interesting shape of the old trees. Notice the forked branches being used as stakes to hold up the long branches. These trees had swelling flower buds all over them and I was sad to miss the glory of their bloom.

   hugging trees

hugging trees

     This last image was taken in the evening, as the sun was going down, casting it’s last light on these two trees that grew together, looking like lovers. Someday, oh someday, I will have a secret garden of my own!

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