So on Thursday I went to place plants for a design I did. This was definitely a cool one and quite important to me. Even though the plants are only going in now, in March, I actually designed the garden last July. It was the very first design I did for Gardens by Gabriel that was given the go ahead by the clients to be installed. It got pushed back so far due to Gabe’s busy workload, some changes I made to the original design, and some other work the clients needed to have done.
The home is in the Edna Valley wine region that borders San Luis Obispo and Arroyo Grande in a beautiful gated cattle ranch.
There are just cows wandering around all over the place. It is kind of crazy for a city boy like me.
This little guy was hanging out right next to the house as I was placing plants. Probably contemplating walking in and eating some of them. A very real threat to this garden!
You may remember I posted this picture last month. This was how part of the yard looked last July. That is a very overgrown and poorly pruned Correa. The house had been professionally landscaped over twenty years earlier but the more interesting plants had died out and been over taken by Correa and rosemary which had then been pruned into billowing cloud shapes!
Last month most of the plants were removed leaving behind some beautiful live oaks. The planting had to be wait for the mason to put in new paths near the front entrance and then dry rot was discovered on the large front porch so the planting was delayed while that was all ripped out and replaced.
I finally got the call that we were ready to plant on Thursday! This part of the garden between the driveway and the front entrance I decided to carry on the mediterranean theme that the other side of the driveway and the backyard already had. So between these two oaks are lots of lavenders, Artemisias, Salvias, and yarrows. The large specimens in these beds are a Caesaplinia mexicana, Berberis nevinii, and Olea europaea ‘Montrose’.
One of the tricky things about designing this garden was that I was still living in West Hollywood and never got to meet the clients. So I didn’t have a very clear picture of what type of garden they might want. I knew that it certainly wasn’t this. I picked up on queues from exploring their property. They had multiple birdfeeders, several dogs in the backyard, and an outdoor tortoise pen! I pressed my nose up against the glass on the front door to peek inside and saw some Audubon prints hanging on the walls. Designing a garden is much easier if you have some sort of theme so for the front yard I decided on creating a native plant garden featuring wildlife attracting plants. The design was well received but I did have to make some changes to some of the large plants (Pacific wax myrtle and toyon) . Even though they would have been great for attracting birds they were deemed too tall and would eventually block the beautiful views.
Part of the design was this path between the driveway and front yard. As you can see it was mostly obscured!
The hedges were removed and the oak was gracefully limbed up a bit to reveal the path. The Correa here was replaced with Salvia spathacea and Ribes speciosum with some Muhlenbergia and Sesleria to round out the design.
One of the reasons I didn’t just continue the mediterranean theme was that the entrance way was dominated by two large western sycamores. I felt that switching to natives would make more sense with the sycamores and oaks.
Native plants certainly make more sense here than the crazy hedges of rosemary all over the place.
The sycamores also received some artful pruning, the lawn beneath them was removed, and a new path was created as well as a small sitting area to enjoy the view of the beautiful hills and wandering cattle.
The new sitting area complete and waiting for plants.
I love the way they worked the huge boulders right into the path.
Did I mention the bluebirds? Finally I got pictures! They found our cars to be the perfect height to scan the fields.
They seemed to love perching on the windows and gazing at their reflections. They enjoyed it quite a bit as you can tell by all the poop on Gabe’s truck!
I saw my very first western titmouse and a pair of magpies too! On my way home I stopped at the farm supply store and finally picked up a bird feeder.
A new “lawn” was created in place of the old water thirsty one. Three different species of Muhlenbergia wind through the space like a ribbon. At the base of each boulder are Seselarias, Aquilegias, Eriogonums, and Salvias. Around the edges of the property are several different cultivars of manzanita and some Ceanothus ‘Dark Star’ (hopefully none of which will be pruned into cloud shapes!). Even though it is not native we also included some Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum ‘Blush’ for the contrast in foliage color. Flanking the front entrance are two pairs of Ribes sanguineum ‘King Edward VII’.
Hopefully once they fill in the new plants will accentuate the beautiful sycamores and not dominate the scene like the huge rosemary hedges did. You can see the brand new front porch in the back still waiting for a handrail.
Western sycamore – Platanus racemosa
The clients also lost a large oak in the backyard recently created a large new sunny space. So a few more projects are being worked on including expanding the existing perennial garden, adding a mini orchard, adding four raised beds for a vegetable garden and a play set for their grandchildren.
I went back to inventory the existing perennials to see what could be salvaged and what should be added and when I sat down four very affectionate dogs jumped all over me! This is Maya and Hudson.
And this tortoise had been let out of his pen for a bit of exercise on the lawn.
And this is one of the many scenic view of the hills around the property.
As my first successful design this is definitely another very meaningful garden to me. Hopefully I’ll be able to go back and have a look when everything has grown in to see if my vision for the garden works the way I imagined it would.