people, places, things
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Designing intimate gardens and garden elements for private clients in California.

When I step into the sensuality of someone’s garden, my desire to connect personal experience with networks of living things is nourished in new ways. Nuances of form and light and opportunities to listen and feel invite me, and creative life, which moves between me, my clients, and the spaces of growing things, unfolds in new and gratifying ways.

I have been designing small gardens in the Bay Area since receiving a masters in landscape architecture from Harvard University in 2002. I am always available for consultations and hope the outline below is a helpful start.


DESIGN PROCESS   When I engage a new client, I listen for how they encounter their garden, what they hope to experience and imagine it could be. I ask about the character of other places in which they feel at ease and of their particular style for getting things done.

Meanwhile I am asking myself: what garden conditions will reflect the clients’ unique vitality back to them, nourish their appetites for texture, color, light and space, and engage them through the cyclic growth of plants, their sounds, smells, and movements.


And at the same time, I am looking at, measuring up, and analyzing the ground about their house, its slopes and rhythms, what’s living there, and the history it holds. And how that land might carefully – and sometimes insistently – be turned in new directions or restored to a former vitality.

Designing is like being a prince or princess: you get everything you want. But it is also a process, in which what at first you think you want may turn out as something richer, even contrary to the original idea. Through the sorting and learning process of design, in the end one often does feel a kind of contentment, completeness. It is a bit of magic.


MATERIAL PLEASURES   Many of my clients are transforming their own gardens, learning by digging and planting, sometimes also with the help of gardeners they’ve worked with for years or with specialists in pruning and installation. According to the clients’ needs, I can assist with plant placement or build unique features such as stairways, benches and fountains. An initial conversation and client visit is followed by plans and sketches, lists and notes giving concrete form to ideas. Then each project diverges according to its needs and budget. Some homeowners seek construction bids, others ask me to elaborate plans in detail, while others take my sketches and lists straight to the nursery and rock yard.

It’s simple, but it’s also much richer than anything I would imagine working on my own. In the end, the clear intention of a design can lift one into new relationships with home, as people and ecosystems, yard and region, express their reciprocal vitality.

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We are very happy with the design and the beautiful foliage that has ensued. Most of the original plants and trees are flourishing! I’m most impressed by the beauty of our natural scenery and how easy it is to maintain.
We have gotten many complements over the years.
— Helena, Oakland
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I work from home now and when work is too stressful what do I do? I go out front and fuss with the garden, often just to walk around looking at the plants. It’s very cleansing.
— Tina, Fremont