Get ready for a promising planting season: Here are some beauties for plant-aholics to drool over Part I

drought tolerant plants

The recent untimely heat wave is barely forgotten, but I‘m noticing the first signs that many of our water-wise plants have awakened from their summer beauty rest: Their green branch tips and new leaves are proof that they are actively growing again. With the cooler nights and fresh breezes announcing fall, my impatience is growing to be out in the garden; I’d want to be planting and trying out some of the exciting plants that I have noticed in the recent months and that I could barely stop … [Read more...]

Better Beds with Shrubs, Part ll

Two Round Leaf Tea Trees

As trees represent the “ceiling” in the garden room, shrubs can act as dividers or walls, as highlights, focal points, or screens. Plant materials are one of the most important design elements for the floor, the walls and ceiling of outdoor rooms. They are living elements and need special care in selection and placement in the landscape. In my previous post, I wrote about the many functions that shrubs can fill in the landscape, and how vital they are for a sustainable landscape design to … [Read more...]

Better Beds with Shrubs Part 1

Shrubs placed to hide the boundaries

  For me as a landscape designer placing shrubs in a design is as natural as adding sweetener to my desserts; I’m so sure of their benefits (shrubs, that is) that I never think much about them. However, they have, perhaps the most important place in a home landscape design, and a recent visit at the Water Conservation Garden in El Cajon where many spectacular specimens were in bloom, made me realize how effective shrubs are in any landscape, and so I thought I’d investigate their … [Read more...]

San Diego … Drought Proof Your Landscape, Part 2

Xeriscape is rewarding

In my previous post, San Diego … Drought Proof Your Landscape, Part 1, I explained the term “xeriscape” and outlined several water-smart landscaping ideas and the first steps towards a water-wise landscape that is beautiful and yet sustainable. Here are the remaining steps a well as valuable resources. 5. Now that you are making voids in your garden (by eliminating certain unsustainable plants), perhaps it’s time to splurge on a few new hardscape elements (patios, walkways, shade pergolas)? In … [Read more...]

San Diego … Drought Proof Your Landscape

Lush xeriscape example

Here’s what you can do to protect your landscape during San Diego’s drought and to do it in style, incidentally. Yesterday morning I stepped outside with my breakfast cereal to soak in the warm sunshine and see what’s going on in my garden.  Following the buzz of the bees drawn by the sweet scent of Orange blossoms wafting through the garden, I found the Orange tree covered with flowers – what a joy to see! Taking a deep breath, my eyes scanned the garden, and it struck me that the Plum tree … [Read more...]

The Eye-Catching Bromeliad – No Tenderfoot in the Drought Resistant Landscape

Aechmea recurvata

In my previous post I wrote about terrestrial bromeliads, a group of plants that can make beautiful, even majestic attention-grabbers in your garden while being perfect companions to many drought resistant plants.  Their form, foliage and colors lend themselves very well to be paired with succulents, cacti and other low water plants in the sustainable landscape design. Bromeliads can be attractive specimen in the difficult areas of your garden, such as in hot reflected light or one that … [Read more...]

Is Your Front Yard the Final Frontier? Conquer Your Home Landscape Design with These Distinctive Exotics

Vriesea imperialis in bloom is just breath-taking.

Searching for unique and exceptional plants that could be worthy complements to the striking and curvilinear architecture of a client’s home in Carlsbad, I visited Rancho Soledad Nursery in rural Rancho Santa Fe/CA.  This grower specializes in unusual specimens and is responsible for many exciting plant innovations in the plant world. The plants that I was after would also need to fit other important requirements:  They needed to be non-fussy plants, fitting into a home landscape design, and … [Read more...]

Thank Heaven for Little Trees, for Little Trees Grow Bigger Every Day! The Role of Trees in Landscape Design

Tipuana tipu

Recently, on a hot Sunday afternoon, I noticed a curious thing:  On a comfortable chaise-lounge in the shade of my Tipu tree,  I was reading a good book when I felt drops of water or some other liquid falling on me.  Was it raining? The drops were so tiny that I couldn't even see them on my skin, but there was no doubt about what I was sensing. Wondering if I was experiencing aphid droplets falling out of the tree canopy, I examined the surrounding furniture on my deck, but there was nothing of … [Read more...]

ART IN THE HOME LANDSCAPE DESIGN – Is It a Case of “You Know It When You See It?“

home landscape design

Realizing that the competition among landscaping companies San Diego is strong, landscape designers vie for the homeowner’s choice with their best photo of their most artful work because to do so is accepted theory practiced and taught by marketing experts. This puts me into a bind of sorts:  What is my best work?  I thought I knew that, but when I show my portfolio to potential clients I get the most divergent comments on my work that make me question this assumption. Take this … [Read more...]

Sustainable Landscape Design – Celebrating California at its Best

Drought resistant plants enhance the bungalow.

Everything about the location of their new home appealed to Ara and Diego:  Conveniently located at a comfortable driving distance to schools, work (both work in medical research at a local university), shopping and cultural events of San Diego, and located in a quiet residential neighborhood, it offered a magnificent view of San Diego Bay, right from their back patio.  It had a good-sized landscape with many fruit trees and room for Diego’s exotics collection; it even had a pool and large play … [Read more...]