This property started out as a blank slate consisting of lawn and plants that had been clipped into unnatural shapes. Nothing had been done to the landscape for at least 30 years.

The new landscape was designed to be unique to the location and the client. I wish I had before photos of the front, but here is one of the back. See if you can tell if it is the same place.

before photo

This is what the property looked like before we redesigned and installed the landscaping

Montecito cottage garden landscape design with French stone fountain, gravel patio, flowering plum, mayten and japanese privets

Montecito Cottage Garden after-look again and you might be able to see it is the same home

The first thing we did was give it some shape. We planted trees in the front and the back to define the space and create more dimension. Realize that this is a very small garden whose size was accentuated by the lawn in the hedged-in space. By planting trees we not only gave the garden shape it also provided shade which is vital for a drought-tolerant landscape design.

French Cottage Garden

Montecito Cottage landscape design with birch trees, heuchera, hedges, heliotrope, foxglove, hydrangea

                  Montecito Cottage garden in spring

The owner of this property had a very particular color pallet in mind. That meant that every plant was approved by her prior to it being placed. Every day I would leave samples on her doorstep (she was a very busy woman). She would indicate which plants she approved and which she didn’t and eventually we nailed down our planting list.

We generally do our designing “in the ground” and this was no exception. I loved working with this client because she was so involved and had a gardener’s sensibility. She had fond memories of her mother’s garden and we wanted to create the feel of an old-fashioned East Coast Garden in Montecito.

Montecito cottage garden with French stone fountain, foxglove, iris, flowering plum, mayten trees, hydrangea, heliotrope

I discovered this French cast stone urn at Eye of the Day GDC and had them convert it into a fountain. The fountain was part of the design and this was the perfect addition to what was a perfect setting. The addition of subtle lighting created an aura of enchantment to the site.

planting detail Montecito cottage garden Heuchera, hydrangea, foxglove, heliotrope

My client said she wanted “an old lady garden” and we delivered in spades. My final reward came later when she wrote to tell me that her new garden had changed her life. If she’d had a bad day, she’d meander the gravel paths, taking in the colors, textures and fragrances, take a deep breath and feel that once more, all was right with the world.

Now, that’s what I call filling your garden with joy.

Until next time, Lisa