Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A Westside (Before/After) Story

At a home near West Clif Drive I have some great clients who recently purchased a new home and hired me to help create a garden that worked with the environment, would require little maintenance and was a safe entertaining and play space for their family. First, we updated the exterior to reflect their modern and artistic aesthetic by simply adding a new coat of paint (paint by Transformational Color), address numbers and lighting fixtures. Instantly the home transformed from 90's beach cottage to modern beach home- without doing any construction. And it got a big instant boost of pizazz which fit the author + doctor + vivacious daughter family well.

 I love how people are getting more bold and expressive with their house colors these days- especially doors. Painting the front door a complimentary popping color gives instant personality to a home AND even more importantly, it shows the guests where the entrance is.                                                                            We had a big design challenge with this project as there was a large cluster of existing Monterrey cypress trees which are tricky to plant under. We wanted to be certain that whatever was planted under the trees would thrive (on little water in competition with tree roots, have an open enough habit to allow tree litter to drop, favor the exposure and soil) AND grow in to create an impactful curb appeal that compliments the home and client's aesthetic.  We wanted some natives and plants that attract pollinators and support the local habitats- we included yarrow, gooseberry and
mediterranean plants. We knew for certain that Mexican feather grass would thrive as there was already an existing patch unwatered in the drought and still kicking.  I designed a large band of the grass to weave across the entrance with hard-as-nails lantana and rosemary to spill over the retaining wall, neglect-loving Australian fuchsia to spread and cover ground and ribes and cotinus for height and interest.

Note: these images were taken just after installation and plants have not had a chance to fill in yet. Once the plants have a chance to grow in (sometime next spring) I will be posting photos on my  website gallery- in the meantime, enjoy this sneak peak.

The clients'  daughter loves skipping around the trees so we used some of their existing bluestones to create a little fairy ring. We hand picked some large granite boulders at the local rockery to balance out and ground the grandness of the trees and add height and form in the direct drip-line where we didn't want to plant. The boulders have soft round edges that are friendly for children to play on / around. In the enclosed front courtyard / patio, we re-used the bluestone that was there and had the landscape contractor reset the stone in DG surrounded by smaller granite rocks.
We planted 2 flowering maples in a deep fuchsia color that really popped against the blue house color and brought in a new firepit to sit over the existing gas line. We gathered all of the sonoma fieldstones from the front to reuse in the back yard, which was also included in the design project. 

These clients like eating healthy local food, but don't have time for real gardening- like many people. For the everyday folks, I usually recommend planting the basic go-to's like a lemon and lime tree (in pot below) and everyday herbs, greens and maybe a couple tomatoes in the summer then get the rest of your produce from farmer's markets, CSAs, and local grocery stores.


           We combined yellow yarrow, orange sedge, heucheras, catmint, an array of succulents and red kangaroo paws for a fun and low fuss garden. We have a nice lavender starflower espalier covering the fence which has a natural flat growing habit with flowers that attract hummingbirds all year. They are keeping their small patch of backyard lawn, at least until the kid is older, but is is a low water native blend that puts up with little water and by not mowing super low, they are able to get away with watering even less. In the long run, they save on time and money- as once established, there is little to NO water being used on this coastal garden... and there is no need for a regular gardener- I come on a quarterly basis to maintain and check on the garden, help and coach the clients with basics such as deadheading, weeding and pruning- while they are able to enjoy all their garden space. So all in all, this story has a happy ending!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Flying South in 2015

Dear Clients and Colleagues,

It's bittersweet to announce that I am moving my business to San Diego in the new year. Although this is by no means goodbye- I will be back in Santa Cruz for quarterly visits- and those clients who wish to schedule any services on that basis, I will happily make myself available. I plan to wrap up all existing projects and will continue checking in on the garden spaces I've created with so many of you and, as always, am available via phone and email for miscellaneous questions, advice and recommendations.

As some of you may know, San Diego and I are not strangers. I have family in San Diego and have been bouncing back and forth for the past 15+ years. I've been able to work on several projects in San Diego and see a big demand for more ecological landscape designers- and horticultural professionals, in general. As a huge advocate for removing front lawns, San Diego has an endless supply which many are finally going brown! Between family and new opportunities in a larger pool, I embark on this journey and next chapter of my career and life.

I'm excited to sink my roots into the community and professional world of San Diego and am thrilled to have already been received warmly and enthusiastically by colleagues thus far. I'm jumping in with the same multiple services from design to consulting to fine gardening + coaching. I look forward to collaborating with talented professionals (and clients) in creating some great new spaces.

I am so grateful for the success, support and relationships I've have the pleasure to build in Santa Cruz. I have personally given my regular clients names of a few highly recommended friends and colleagues to potentially take over and dovetail services and am available for a final walk-through / torch passing. Any other clients are welcome to contact me directly for recommendations. Once more, I'd like to give a big wholehearted thanks to all of you for making it happen- and again, let it be known, this is not goodbye. I will be back for the redwoods, wine tasting, mushroom hunting and cool misty mornings!

Andrea (and Guinness)

Want to keep in touch? Follow me on Facebook, as well as my website and this blog.

FYI: My business name, website, mobile number and email address will remain unchanged.

Any changing contact info will be updated and posted on all the above links as well as sent to any current and former clients and colleagues on my mailing list and database. My 408 phone number will continue to be in use along with the new (858) 255-0585 San Diego number- which forwards to my existing 408 number.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Morocco: lessons in color and design

Making the trek across Spain to Morocco is a sort of journey through culture, design, food and time. From the organic Art Nouveu architecture and bold colorful tiles of Gaudi in Barcelona, to the moorish Islamic architecture and design of Alhambra in Granada and the Andalusian flavor of Seville to Morocco's ornate palaces, tilework, architecture- Spain and Morocco are a designer's dream. Spices, textiles, even the food is colorful (and delicious). Riads and Hotels of Morocco are covered in fabrics and cushions, walls covered in paint, tiles, artwork. Even doorways with their keyhole shaped curves are playful and seductive- as if portals to new worlds- and windows with their moorish ironwork allow the light to dance through in patterns on the already colorful floors.

Pictures below are a few highlights scattered from my visits to Chefchouen (the blue city in the Rif mountains), Fez, Casablanca and Marrakesh. Photo credit goes to myself along with several of my fellow adventures who graciously let me use their images. Enjoy!

 The atriums of these riads are not only aesthetic but also functional in high heat areas such as Morocco. The central fountains serve as a kind of convectional cooling- pulling hot air in and cooling it down. I noticed these are always several degrees cooler than outside and inside. Also traditionally women who were not allowed "outside" could privately enjoy outside. Yes- quite a different world...

Jardin Majorelle in Marakech- It took French painter Jacques Majorelle (1886-1962) forty years of passion and dedication to create this enchanting garden in the heart of the “Ochre City”. Moorish meets Art Deco and a whole lot of bold whimsy. Yves Saint Laurent discovered the garden in the 60s and purchased it in the 80s owning it until his death in 2008. His ashes reside on the property.







The pottery co-op of Fez. Here they have a school for aspiring artists to learn the trade, create and sell pottery, fountains, mosaics, etc. They fire the works in kilns with waste products from the olive oil (pits and pressed fruit).