Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Garden Designers Bloglink: Regional Diversity in Design

Terroir - A sense of place.

Northern California with its golden rolling hills and endless sun soaked days is a gardeners dream come true.

Our Mediterranean climate offers the gardener about 9 months of mostly sun filled uninterrupted gardening time.

Because we receive most of our rainfall during the winter months

( December through March ) it makes sense to collect as much rain water as possible to store for our long dry season.

Conscientious gardeners can be found setting up rain barrel collection systems to their home’s down spouts as well as installing underground water disbursement systems that keeps storm water runoff from draining out into the San Francisco bay.

Photo below: gravel disbursement swale / dry stream bed. Derviss Design

From Before and After

During our long dry season it makes practical sense to plan for a garden that can tolerate a substantial amount of drought and endless days of sunshine.

This translates into planting large trees on the south west side of the house to create shade and to use a palette of drought adaptable plants.

Experienced gardeners will also limit or completely omit their use of water dependant turf grasses and many will install an automatic drip irrigation system to assist in regulating their water use.

Photo below : drought tolerant planting + drip irrigation system by David Feix

From Bromeliad Society Tour 2008

Many of the home sites in suburban and urban Northern California are quite small in comparison to the lot sizes in the mid west and the eastern seaboard.

For this reason paired together with our rainless long summers we tend to live a substantial amount of time outdoors.

We extend our interiors to the exterior by using our patios, terraces and decks as outdoor living rooms, kitchens and family rooms.

Photos below : Napa Valley alfresco living , designed by Alida Blair Landscape Design

From Alida Blair Landscape Design

From Alida Blair Landscape Design

For the professional landscape designer styling a garden in Northern California is a tremendous amount of fun due to the wide variety of architectural styles and ethnic cultures that have established themselves here.

Spanish colonial architecture, your basic rambling ranch, California craftsman's bungalow style, and the ubiquitous stucco cottage are all common architectural styles dotting the undulating hills and valleys.

Photo : Two story ranch style home on the coast with a heather garden. Derviss Design

From portfolioMay08.jpg

Photo : Classic Spanish style home with stucco walls, a central fountain, and Mediterranean styled plantings. Derviss Design

From portfolioMay08.jpg

Photo : A high rise roof top Asian meditation garden in downtown San Francisco. Derviss Design

From Water fountains in the landscape

There is also an active culture of avant garde design. Many of the trends that migrate across the country originated from California , especially Northern California which is known for its strong population of landscape designers such as contemporary Topher Delaney and Bernard Trainor to the honored legends of Thomas Church and Lawrence Halprin.

Photo below: Design by Suzanne Biaggi for the 2009 Late Show Garden in Sonoma.

From cornerstone garden show

Photo below : The Blue Garden by Shirley Watts, San Francisco

From AIA garden tour 2009

Photo below : An iconic Thomas Church garden in Sonoma CA.

From random photos

I have heard that the Northern California chapter of the APLD is going to be having their annual meeting sometime soon in Northern California.

It is my hope that when the designers from other parts of the country come to visit Northern California that they will experience our terroir by enjoying dining alfresco underneath a bosque of olive trees, inhale the sweet musk of our rolling vineyards and explore the avant garde gardens in the city and suburbs beyond.

Photo below : Meadow planting at Cornerstone Garden by John Greenlee

From cornerstone garden show

Photo below: Seating under a bosque of Olives in Marin County. Derviss Design

From Loropetalum chinese

Photo below: Residential garden Design by David Feix, Berkeley .

From david's garden photos

Photo below : Small S.F. city back yard packed with bromeliads, design by David Feix .

From Bromeliad Society Tour 2008

Photos below : An Oakland hillside garden designed by Sheri Merciari

From Bromeliad Society Tour 2008

From Bromeliad Society Tour 2008

From Bromeliad Society Tour 2008

I’d like to thank Scott Hokunson of Blue Heron Landscape for organizing this blog a rama.

If you are interested ( and you know you are ! ) in exploring the musings of the other landscape designers involved in this blog fest please visit their blogs.

Susan Cohan / Susan Cohan Gardens (Chatham NJ) - Miss Rumphius’ Rules

Rebecca Sweet / Harmony in the Garden (Los Altos, CA) - Gossip in the Garden

Dan Eskelson / Clearwater Landscapes (Priest River ID)Clearwater Landscapes Garden

Journal -

Laura Schaub / Schaub Designs Fine Gardens (San Jose CA) - Interleafings

Pam Penick / Penick Landscape Design (Austin TX) - Digging

Michelle Derviss / Michelle Derviss landscape Design (Novato CA) - Garden Porn

Ivette Soler / (Los Angeles CA) - The Germinatrix

Susan Schlenger / Susan Schlenger Landscape Design (Charlottesville VA) - Landscape Design Advice -

Scott Hokunson / Blue Heron Landscape Design (Granby CT)- Blue Heron Landscapes

Tara Dillard / Stone Mountain, GA Landscape Design Decorating Styling

Jocelyn Chilvers / Wheat Ridge, CO The Art Garden

Genevieve Schmidt / Arcata, CA - North Coast Gardening

Susan L. Morrison / East Bay Area - Blue Planet Garden Blog


rebecca sweet said...

Your photos are absolutely amazing - my eyes are about as excited as they can be just LOOKING at these incredible gardens. You've done a beautiful job showing the incredible diversity in design styles as well as specific plantings. I've personally never designed with bromeliads much, and to see your gardens have just inspired me to explore them further....thanks for the beautiful post!

Susan Morrison said...

Michelle, you must have the best garden photo collection in the blogospere. Your photos really demonstrate the range of what a California garden can be.

Thanks for the reminder of all the great California landscape architects. Tommy Church's designs in particular continue to inspire my own design work.

ScottHokunson said...

Michelle, I feel as though I just looked through a magazine, your pictures are fantastic. I love the Heather garden! Your post took me 3000 miles away and made today's temp of 27 (16 with wind chill) a little easier to bear. All the best, Scott

Pam/Digging said...

Oh, how I'd love to dine alfresco underneath a bosque of olive trees! I want to book a flight!

The gardens you showcase are always stunning, and I like the variety of styles you presented here. Different styles, and yet they all have that California look. Or maybe it's simply the glow of all that sunshine.

Deviant Deziner, aka Michelle said...

Hello Rebecca,
You must join me this year for our annual Bromeliad Tour which will take place in Marin this year.
Or come to one of our monthly meetings in S.F. for the Bromeliad Society.
I learned so much from the members at the S.F. Bromeliad Society about using Bromeliads in the landscape.
Brom's are great plants for the Bay Area !

Glad you liked the diversity of the photos, especially the Thomas Church image.
For years I admired his Sonoma garden and didn't realize it was located about 10 minutes from my own house!
Looking forward to reading your blog in depth .

Susan said...

Thanks for the wonderful post and pictures. Being from the east, it really gave me the flavor of your area...and makes me want to visit!

What an interesting concept of collecting rain water during the "rainy" season for use later on. Although I am familiar with this concept, it's interesting how it is used to help alleviate a real, regional problem.

Once again, great photos.

Tara Dillard said...

I learn everytime I read one of your posts.

All of the gardens would make a fabulous garden tour. Of course I would want to talk with all the owners, and their designer, if they have one. And see how the landscape looks from interior views.

You are the queen of color.

Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Jocelyn H. Chilvers said...

The snow is flying sideways past my window---I want to jump into your photos and wallow in those gorgeous gardens! Thank you!

danger garden said...

Great post Michelle, I felt like I was there walking through the beautiful gardens!

Genevieve said...

I'm with the other designers - your photo collection is the best. I've been envying your amazing gardens (and those of your friends) ever since the long-gone days of the gardenweb designer's forum. They are wonderful inspiration.

I don't think I've seen the bromeliad tour photos before - they are fantastic. I don't think I can do broms outside here in the redwoods, but even just taking inspiration from the colors and forms...

One thing is for sure, between you, Rebecca, Germi, and Pam, I'm looking at succulents in a whole new way. Such color! Such ease of care! So many shapes and textures...

Germi said...

I love how you tipped your hat to other designers in your region, Michelle! It was another way for us to enjoy the specificity of the amazing place you live and work.
"Terroir" what a wonderful word. I love it - but I never use it when speaking because I haven't figured out how to say it without sounding fumble- tongued. It's the perfectly resonant word to describe the unique quality of a place - and it is even more resonant in your post. Beautiful!
Thank you for your celebration, I am inspired! I can't wait for us to meet!

Susan aka Miss R said...

Michelle--Your choices gardens and their photos knock my socks off. I can imagine each of these gardens, being in them, the textures, smells and individuality of it all. My Zonal Envy Syndrome is rearing its ugly head again and making me want to move back to CA...when I know it's not really true. Thank you.

Dan Eskelson said...

Hi Michelle,

Very nice post and awesome photos!

I have admired your work since WAY back in the GardenWeb days - remember those crazy times?!?

If I were still in CA, I would be hounding you for tours of your projects.

Thanks for joining in - your good words are much appreciated!


Laura Livengood said...


When APLD has their International Conference in Northern California in 2012, you can bet that we will take full advantage of our many blessings to give visiting designers a terminal case of zone envy! Bravo for capturing a level of design excellence that most of us only dream of. (Now I'm even MORE glad that I went a different way with my post!)

Shirley Bovshow "EdenMaker" said...

You have the benefit of the picturesque rolling hills in N.Cal that creates a beautiful backdrop in addition to the agreeable weather.

I enjoyed your presentation of other designer's works, but I have to say, your designs shine brightly among the rest of these "stars!"

Shirley Bovshow
Garden World Report

How It Grows said...

I love the look of California gardens. It's nice to see things other than the boxwoods, camellias and crapemyrtles we have here!

Deviant Deziner, aka Michelle said...

Once again thank you for including me in with this wonderfully talented group of designers.

Glad that you enjoyed the diversity of design from some of Northern California's designers.

Ya gotta do what ya gotta do. Collecting a very valuable natural resource is big biz'ness here is drought stricken California.

I so enjoyed your blog post. You transported me to a beautiful area in our country and described it so elegantly.
Thanks for the tour.

I try to take advantage of the Garden Tour Season as much as possible. There are many here in the spring and summer and they are always so inspiring.

Thanks for stopping in . Your a real garden trooper !

Using bromeliads in the landscape is all pretty new to me. It has taken me several years just to learn what is adaptable to my region and I still have a challenging time getting it right.

Oh that word : Terroir, It is a tongue twister, I say it like I am gargling between the ter and wha part.

The marvelous m. R.
looking forward to your california trip !

I loved your frozen waterfall video.
I was hoping that the two birds who decided to catch a drink would decide to go for a slide down the ice.

I found your blog entry really stimulating. Glad that you chose to diversify a bit and showed how we all do things a little bit differently but all end up with the same results : beautiful gardens.

Thanks for dropping in. We are all the more richer for your Garden World Report.
And as a personal question .... are you always so darn cheerful ?
Well I guess I would be if I had a body like yours.
o la la.

How it grows,
Yeah, diversity. That's what it is all about.
When I travel to your neck of the woods I oh and ah over your camellias and azaleas.

Thanks to everyone who stopped in and left a message. It's been a fantastic day


Anonymous said...

Beautiful gardens & prose to ignite our imaginations!

Anonymous said...

Ok, I think maybe it's finally time to whiteout the tired old muscle boys on the Sistine Chapel and put some of these scrumptuous visions of paradise up there instead. Brava! -Elizabeth (aka Dr. Leda Horticultre)

Wendy said...

wow, what wonderful and inspiring ideas! I would love to dine at that long table outdoors.

Anonymous said...

Uh, oh, Michelle. That third picture has a picture of a place to burn wood and enough fuel to do it, too.

I hope it's sweet smelling apple wood...

Deviant Deziner, aka Michelle said...

Yeah, how could you not notice the wood fired pizza oven.
It's only saving grace is that it is a set in a very rural setting so that when it is used, it doesn't impact the health of anyone except those who are sitting infront of it.
It's one thing to burn wood for pleasurable ambience in a densely populated area thus impacting hundreds of people and the environment and having a cooking source that is rarely ever used and impacts the health of those who are using it and no one else. Though it does pollute the air and there is no good excuse for that , especially when you can cook a pizza inside in a gas oven on a clay sheet.