A Blog about Landscape Design in San Diego
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This little wooden birdhouse was tossed into the garbage on one of our projects. Thankfully it was rescued and turned into a hanging planter. Its interesting how repurposing something can make it suddenly beautiful.

Recycled wood birdhouseBirdhouse close-up

To get ready for a private garden tour next week, Bryan and Jora Vess wanted us to spruce up their upper deck area. We craned in 3 large Olive trees (Est. 80 years old) and will finish the area with Decomposed Granite and some Agave vilmoriniana. More pictures after its completed. Enjoy

Olive tree

Vess Olive trees

Our Modern Concrete Bench can be adapted to most any outdoor space. The clean lines and simple shape allow it to compliment, not compete for attention. The bench is constructed using high density foam with a concrete-like shell for durability. It has the strength equivilent to 3000 psi. The Redwood can be changed out for any kind of durable seating surface and the concrete bases can be stuccoed or painted to continue an existing color scheme. The benches are available for purchase and can be delivered.

Concrete and Redwood bench

Concrete and Redwood bench

The Falling Waters Bench

So even the though the SF garden show was a few weeks ago, I wanted to talk about it.

After visiting the show last year, I decided that the SF garden show would be an annual pilgrimage. Much to my dismay I heard the same rumor that many of you heard… “this would be the last year for the show”. That was the nail in the coffin, and even though I have an 8 month pregnant wife, priorities are priorities, right? :)

On the way up we needed to swing by Jennifer Asher’s home to drop off the beautiful sculptures we used in our display at the San Diego garden show. Her home was only 15 minutes away from Venice Beaches’ Big Red Sun. Big Red Sun is a boutique nursery and mecca for anyone interested in how landscape design can be integrated into just about any other design discipline. They truly have a unique style and cult following. The flagship Big Red Sun is located in Austin (our mid-west sister-city in my humble opinion) and is renowned for some of the most inovative landscapes, event styles, vignettes, and custom potted creations. Zach and I spent over an hour poking around, snapping photos, bugging the designers with inane questions, and generally soaking in the inspiration. Visit Big Red Sun, you won’t be disappointed.

Big Red SunSucculent Bird House

found materials, plants, melaleuca bark, yarn, drift wood

found materials, plants, melaleuca bark, yarn, drift wood

After the SF show, which was somewhat dissapointing for several reasons, we visited another boutiqe style nursery, Flora Grubb.

Flora Grubb has received a lot of press lately. Mostly for her Tillansdia installation at a Hotel in Yountville, SF (famous for Thomas Keller’s restaraunt French Laundry), But perhaps even more for her succulent wall installations. Using ELT green wall panels, Grubb plants them liberally with an array of echeverias, sedums, and other fleshy succulents. The result is a visual roller coaster. Enjoy.

Flora Grubb's succulent wall art

Flora Grubb's succulent wall art

Detail of Succulent wall

Colorful chairs against reclaimed barn-wood facade

Colorful chairs against reclaimed barn-wood facade

Tillandsias at the Bardessono in Yountville

Tillandsias at the Bardessono in Yountville

I had the opportunity to meet Flora (read: accost) and she did not disappoint. After reading about her nursery and visiting the website I had my hopes up that it would an inspiring place, and it absolutely was. Located in the southern part of the city, Flora Grubb nursery wasn’t hard to find, and in fact sticks out like a small oasis compared to the industrial backdrop and nearby BART terminal. Flora keeps the nursery stocked with “high” quality plant material. She mentioned that if a plant looks slightly less than perfect, its pulled from the shelves and nursed to health somewhere else. This is done to keep the nursery looking perfect, and to validate retail costs of plant material.

But in all honesty, I didn’t come for the plants. I came to be wowed by the little vignettes, the famous “succulent wall”, local art, and to see how this business model works. Flora has created a destination for locals and visitors like me. The nursery has a coffee shop inside, an impressive stock of design books, gift ideas, pottery, and much much more. She allows her employees (all landscapers/designers) to advertise their own services to customers which creates a creative and open atmosphere, almost a collective of sorts. Flora herself only takes on about five or six clients a year. She admitted, “I need to have a connection with them, I need to be in love with the project and the clients… no not clients, they are all friends.” Wow! What a hugely different take on the normal client : designer relationship. I was so inspired by that one statement that I have changed the way I view “potential” clients and the way I view myself as a business owner and designer.

I think sometimes (ok maybe most of the time) its just a business relationship, but I had to admit after hearing her say that, that the projects I’m most proud of are with people I consider friends, not just clients. It was a great experience to say the least and exactly what I needed.

We participated in the 2009 Spring Home and Garden Show in San Diego. Our Display, entitled “Coastal Retreat” was a huge hit! Along with our contributors, Modern Cabana and Terra Sculpture we designed a garden to take advantage of our wonderful Southern California lifestyle!┬áThe garden received Judge’s Choice, and Best Hardscape Feature, along with 3rd Best of Show.

The feature that got the most attention was our curved wall made to look like poured in place concrete. The wall was constructed out of wood in three pieces. It was stuccoed in place and became an integral feature in our display. Visitors enjoyed margaritas next to the “fire” and dug their toes into the sand. The display was intended to encourage people to “experience” the garden instead of just view it from afar.

Check out more photos and the rest of the gardens here.