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    « 2009 - The Good, the Bad, the Firsts, the Lasts...and the I'm-Not-Really-Sures | Main | Understanding The Poop Loop »


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    rebecca sweet

    You're so funny, Susan. I love that first photo - that seems to be what so many folks from around the country think we, Californians, are like.

    Well...maybe we are, just a bit. But I'm so glad you also touched upon our love for the outdoors, and how and WHERE to plant edibles to make the most of them! And of the importance of placing thoughtful resting spots to 'sit and contemplate' for just awhile...

    Beautiful post, as always.

    Thanks Rebecca! Aren't we lucky to live in such a beautiful place?


    I love your ideas about what the California lifestyle entails. The thoughts about cozy seating for two-person chats, seating near the grill for serious grazers (me!), and keeping the growing good near the kitchen or grill are great.

    I'm a garden designer now, but spent 10 years in food marketing before switching careers. What can I say? My love of eating keeps sneaking it's way into my designs.

    Michelle D.

    An enjoyable and entertaining read.
    You captured our terroir beautifully through prose and images.
    I especially loved your first photo - fun !
    It has been a real treat reading how you and the other California based designers have represented their areas.


    I agree. My post was pretty fluffy, but I felt like yours, Rebecca's, Germi's and Gen's could have been written by me, they so perfectly capture the joys and challenges of designing in California.

    Scott Hokunson

    HA! What a great way to begin your post. I love it. You really capture the spirit of the left coast lifestyle. Herbs and citrus near the patio is an awesome idea, sort of the California style Potager.
    Great post! Scott

    Oooh I like that term - California style potager! Mind if I steal it


    Susan, you had me at "bug-free evenings." We have the long, warm (OK, hot) summers and pleasant summer evening temps, but those pesky mosquitoes make screened porches a very good idea. As lovely and useful as a screened porch may be, it's just not the same as sitting amid your plants in your garden.

    So, despite a bit of climate-envy, I really enjoyed your post about the CA lifestyle and how it impacts your design sensibilities.

    I'm sometimes surprised when I see designs from other parts of the county that the living areas aren't more oriented towards night time activities, then have to remind myself about the reality of the bugs. We DO have some mosquitos, but it's pretty mild. Although how they always manage to find me and not my husband I'll never know.

    Dan Eskelson

    Thanks Susan, I enjoyed your post, and my mouth is watering after reading about growing herbs adjacent to the grill - I am definitely going to adopt that idea in the spring. Thanks!

    Having grown up in the Golden State, I am definitely now 'California Dreamin' ;-)

    Oh I don't think you're suffering too much in beautiful Idaho! Love living in California, but reading about where the other GDBL live and design has given me a little case of envy as well.

    jocelyn/the art garden

    Susan, one thing cold, snowy Denver has in common with your sunny California is the love of outdoor living. I can't imagine not spending time outdoors everyday, and your post is full of ways we can all make the most of it. Thanks!

    Oh I know! I used to travel to Denver on business - ya'll are fit, that's for sure.


    That's it, I'm off to make a new life on the west coast of America, Led Zeppelin's 'going to California' humming in my head, but wait, can't get the bluddie car out of the drive, it's frozen over.

    But seriously, I get the flavour. When you live outside so much, functionality is all part of the design.

    Love those Canna on mass, viewed through the dining room.

    Never had a Meyer lemon, but being something of a gastronaut it appeals together with herbs on hand.

    All the best from a wintry Dordogne.


    We should do a vacation house swap! Except you would want to come here in the winter while I want to be there in the spring. Plus, I know from your blog how much gardening you do - afraid you couldn't count on me to keep your lovely garden in tip top shape. But you COULD count on me to drink up all your wine.


    I have to LOL! What you refer to as the space for Meditation and Contemplation is what I call "The Make-Out Spot"! Clients always blush and laugh ... and then call it that themselves!
    And you are SO RIGHT about the herbs and lemons - right next to the grill is where they belong - SO CALIFORNIA!
    I love your post - and the beginning cracked me up! I remember that show!
    Isn't it great to travel around like this? I know I'm going to be reading these posts over and over ... XOXO!

    Well thanks a lot! Of all the posts on this topic, mine was already the fluffiest, and now you make it even fluffier by turning my meditation concept into a make out spot!

    May have to delete your comment. Can't have clients adopting your lingo.


    aloha susan, just coming back from sonoma this xmas, i couldn't agree with you more on your insiteful comments to regionality...thanks for including the other garden designers some of the sites i haven't check out yet. i'll be doing some cool topics on garden's/hikes i did recently in the bay area....including the mustard blooms in sonoma/napa

    Lucky you, to live in one beautiful state and vacation in another!

    Susan aka Miss R

    You groovy California gal! You make me want to fire up the grill and get out my blender and it's 19 degrees here!

    I find the staccato punches of bold color to be really fascinating. Thanks for the warmth!

    Afraid most of the warmth where I am is coming from photos too these days. Dreary and overcast all week here.

    But firing up the blender's always a good idea.

    Laura Livengood Schaub

    Now I am REALLY glad I went a different route with my post, between you and Rebecca we Californians have been thoroughly outed! And where was I when that TV show was on? Oh, yeah, in college (young whippersnapper!) Great post, Meyer Lemon and I salute you!

    I loved your post. I could look at garden plans all day. I agree, I thought Rebecca totally captured what it is to be a garden designer in California.

    Shirley Bovshow

    HI Susan,
    I "ditto" everything you mentioned about design for California gardens.
    Citrus, sitting areas, views from inside the house to the yard, edible gardens and BBQ's!

    The best part of it is that even the most humble landscape design in our area is elevated to "Eden" status with the pleasant climate that's worth a million bucks!

    I'm off to visit the rest of the design peeps!

    Great idea.
    Shirley Bovshow
    Garden World Report

    Glad you enjoyed it - and thanks again for loaning me the photo of your fabulous California style potager (to use Scott's new term).


    Ah, you detail the many things I miss now that my 3-year stint as a Californian is over. Foodies are much rarer here in Spokane than in the bay area (you may stop snickering now, please). But there are a few around to inspire me to spend time in the kitchen instead of on my ornamentals or blog (but it's 5:05 right now and the kitchen isn't being used . . uh oh). I don't miss the pollution or traffic or massive amounts of people smashed together, though. But meyer lemons growing next to the grill, I wish I had that here!

    Yes, I cleverly didn't mention all the things that make California less than idyllic. There's something to be said for NOT being able to garden year round - it can start to make you feel like you're a bit of a slave to the garden.

    Tara Dillard

    Adore your emphasis on planting herbs/fruits/veggies near cooking/eating areas in the garden. And making them gorgeous.

    I sense you adore garden rooms too. Yet pack them in with care so the entire space looks like a lush garden.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

    Thanks Tara! Every climate has it's advantages and we'd be crazy not to take advantage of them - after all, isn't that what Tara's trinity is all about?

    Debra Lee Baldwin

    I once felt sorry for myself because "my" lemon wasn't a Meyer (I know, get a real problem, Debra). Then my new neighbors decided they didn't want all those lemons on their tree, a tree the previous owners had treasured. You guessed it: it's a Meyer, and now---because of this, and because I live in California---my life is perfect. That is, except for gophers, snails, aphids, Argentine ants, coyotes, bunnies and squirrels.

    OK, here's my lemon story. The first Meyer I planted was damaged by frost the first year, so rather than wait for it to recover, I gave it to my thrifty neighbor and planted a new one. Well, my new one (now 8 years old) STILL only puts out a few lemons a year and is only a few feet tall, while the damaged one I gave my neighbor is 10 feet tall and a prolific producer. She often leaves a bag of lemons on my porch, which I enjoy, while simultaneously feeling a little ticked off.


    I have a sitting wall almost exactly like that! And yes, I grow some herbs along it, especially basil and mint...

    Sounds lovely!


    Now I'm hungry, and homesick for Zone 9. In Zone 7 California we feel more like we're in Colorado. Guess we can compensate by sticking a bottle of champagne in the next snowbank that comes along.

    I can't tell you how many folks up here in the mountains talk about building a glasshouse just for Meyer lemons.

    Wow, next time I'm in your area I'll be scouring the snowbanks in search of free champagne.

    Not surprised about the greenhouse chatter. If I lived in a colder climate, that's what I'd probably do.

    Town Mouse

    Oh, I sure wish I were a garden designer, too! Well, it's not to be.

    Love the post, I so agree the special places are important. I really like the use of urbanite in that San Ramon garden. I do think here in the bay area people might be more interested in sustainability than other parts of the country.

    Trust you to notice the urbanite! I think you'd like this whole garden. Not a lot of natives, but all low water, no pesticides or fertilizers, sheet mulched, etc. It's wonderful when you find clients who are open to new ideas.

    P.S. saw your comment on the landscape designer's GuestRant - it does seem that the controversy between natives and non-natives is somewhat manufactured at this point.


    Well, the Internet has provided the concept of regional diversity its much appreciated exposition. It is so intriguing appreciating such wide variations in climatology. Lord knows, I have worked in a few, from Vancouver, BC, to Reno and Santa Cruz. Now in Kentucky as I suffer through a ridiculously and surely illegally cold Winter, there are times when I long for California. What was always most unusual for me were the species of animals and insects of each climate. The 'clear' bugs of California, the odd Scorpion in Reno, the slugs of Portland and Vancouver - as someone intimate indeed with dirt, the underground scene was oddly thrilling and full of surprises. It made one identify somewhat with all the displaced little species we move into as homeowners, expanding into Nature. I think this is where i mention the Bears of Lake Tahoe and the cougars of British Columbia. The diversity in truly interesting and wildly important for all of us to understand as we take over those once-natural areas.

    Steve, I wish you had seen this post earlier so you could have added your post to ours. Focusing on the regional diversity of the soil and the intricate variety of the bugs who live there would have made for a very unique perspective.


    I remember California Fever....Wow I did not know it only lasted one season....I have never even lived in California and I remember that song and show.

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