Gardens should feed souls and bellies - both human and non-human! Color, texture, architecture, and mood are all important factors, as are using climate appropriate plants that require very little in the way of water, fertilizer, pesticides, and maintenance. And of course, they must be beautiful!
What people say about Nan's designs:
I'm deliriously happy with my garden (not exaggerating!). Thanks very much for your creativity, persistence, and for teaching me so much about gardening
-- Anne Larocca
I just spent about a half hour walking very slowly around my entire yard, starting at the side fence entry, all the way around to the side fountain, looking at every plant, bombarded with a riot of color and every possible shade of green, a menagerie of exotic shapes, seeing how they complemented each other, played off each other
You made the garden I dreamed about but could not describe, come fully, wonderfully, overwhelmingly, come to life. You meet a lot of people in life who are good at what they do, but so very few who are truly great, truly gifted. -- Ken Bender
My own garden was once a weedy lot with a Torrey pine tree, a fruitless mulberry, some ancient Christmas trees and a line of yuccas.
Fast forward nearly 20 years and it is a demonstration garden for low water gardening - both in terms of plants and technology - that is sustainable, edible, and beautiful.
I always caution potential clients that my own garden is a laboratory where I test new plants to see how well they will survive, as well as how to use them in the landscape.
I am fortunate in that I have 2/3 of an acre to work with. That much space allows me to have several types of gardens. I have, for example, a native plant garden, an herb garden, an area that is primarily plants from the world's deserts, a vegetable garden, perennials, about 30 fruit trees, and more.
My newest garden area is a large patio of recycled concrete and decomposed granite with a large, curved seating bench, fire ring, and a curved wall into which three sizes of bowls cascade water into a recirculating reservoir.
Alongside the new patio is a large meadow of low water Carex praegracilis, a green, billowy, grass-like native.
South African bulbs, red flowering yarrow, and tufted green Lomandra and Dianella grow amidst the Carex.They add a bit of spring color, and year round texture to this large green field that serves as the garden's negative space.
Both the patio and the meadow replace a large lawn installed in 1993 and abandoned in 2003.
Now, I am installing meadows like mine in my clients' gardens. This is just one of the many experiments in my own space that I then translate into client gardens.
This suburban Southern California home had a worn out lawn and a sad carrotwood tree as its sole landscape. The updated version is filled with colorful low-water plants that look beautiful year-round. In fact, these photos were shot in December!
Note that a circle of Dymondia margaretae serves as a small "lawn" behind the shrubs
We all love trees, but sometimes, too many trees is just too much.
This garden was plagued by a worn-out landscape beneath too many liquidamber trees. The trees offer dense shade in summer, no shade in winter, and fill the upper layer of soil with greedy roots.
Few plants can survive under these conditions, so it took both imagination and experimentation to find trees, shrubs, ornamental grasses, and flowering perennials that not just survive but thrive.
The garden's soft purple/burgundy/silver/gray-green color palette compliments the home's gray and charcoal color scheme. Plants are low water, low maintenance, and texturally fascinating.
A generation ago, this home was landscaped with clipped junipers. This generation was ready for something entirely different, low water, low maintenance and colorful.
The owner of this garden couldn't imagine it beyond a patch of disintegrating grass and a row of decrepit hibiscus along the back fence that hid a view of the ocean. Now, he delights in the colors, textures, and views from his backyard.