When I am designing a garden I usually try to find a few photos for inspiration. It might be a photo of a garden I admire or even just a particular plant that I am currently excited about and want to add as a featured specimen.
My latest design for Gardens by Gabriel is a corner house just a few blocks from the bay in Morro Bay. The homeowners saw a beautiful garden that Gabe had designed for one of their neighbors and decided they wanted their yard to look that nice as well. The directive was simple. They want it to have a “Wow factor!” and wanted to have a bit of a Protea/South African theme.
Proteaceae is one of Gabe’s favorite plant families so they are in good hands. He is familiar with all the different genera and knows how to care for them (they have some tricky soil requirements but are right at home in the cool fog of the California coast). But as the designer for the project I had my work cut out for me. Since I learned gardening on the east coast and Protea were not mentioned in a single horticulture class I took I had a bit of homework to do. I knew enough about them to look at a plant and say “Hey I bet that is in the Protea family”. But that was about it. Fortunately Gabe had recently picked up a bunch of plants at Monterey Bay Nursery so at least I had a partial plant list.
For inspiration I turned to some photos I took over a year ago at Seaside Gardens in Carpinteria. If you are a garden lover and are visiting the Santa Barbara area you definitely want to check out this nursery. Not only do they have a nice selection of plants but they have several acres of “botanical gardens” designed by local garden designers. I actually think they are among the nicest gardens I have seen in California and every time I am in the area I bring my camera with me and spend a little time walking around. They have nine display gardens but my favorites are the South African and Succulent gardens.
Aside from the Proteas the design also features other Mediterranean and native plants, succulents, and a bocce court! I hope the homeowners love the design because I had a lot of fun creating it and learned a lot. It is in a rather prominent spot so it would be very exciting to drive past it and know that I had a hand in creating it.