Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Aloha and Happy Holidays from Oahu's North Shore!

Aloha! The North Shore has been fantastic, we made it just in time to catch the end of the Billabong Pipe Masters and the last solid week of sun apparently since it's been raining nearly every day since!
Since next week we bid adieu to our lovely tropical paradise we thought we'd share some of our adventures before we go. We've had a chance to check out the beautiful Waimea Valley gardens, meet a group of turtles camped out on the beach, taste some of the best poke around and, most importantly, do absolutely nothing for hours on end! (this is a vacation after all!)

Sunset over the lifeguard tower
Waimea Valley
Waimea Valley Birdsnest Ferns

Small and rainy

off the wall

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Need a Florist?

Every week, as I sign in for my morning visit at Encinitas Chiropractic, there is a new gorgeous floral display waiting on the desk for me to admire as I wait for my adjustment.

Finally, this week I got to meet the artist:   Amy Samuel of The Flower Shop Encinitas. 

But these aren't just any vase of flowers, their arrangements range from sparingly zen to fantasticly colorful and are always amazingly detailed and fun!

Check out their website or visit their shop in Encinitas off Encinitas Blvd and El Camino Real!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Designer is IN

Landscape Architect, Jeremy Sison of Artemisia Landscape Architecture will be at Las Pilitas Nursery in Escondido on November 6th and November 20th from 9AM to 3PM.
He will be providing design consultations for $20 per 1/2 hour (more than half the normal consultation price!!)
To reserve a time slot call Jeremy at 760-936-6534 or send him an email at .

Monday, October 11, 2010

Kill Your Lawn!!

Thinking of finally cutting the cord on that turf?  Now's the time!

The Olivenhain Municipal Water District is offering $1/square foot rebates for all cutomers who remove their turf and install drought tolerant gardens!

The rebate is only good until December 1st though so don't delay! 

For more information and to fill out their application click here or visit the Olivenhain MWD website and find their link for Turf Removal Rebates.

Applicable Service Areas:
Olivenhain Municipal Water District (OMWD) includes portions of the cities of Encinitas, Carlsbad, San Diego, Solana Beach and San Marcos, as well as the communities of Olivenhain, Leucadia, Elfin Forest, Rancho Santa Fe, Fairbanks Ranch, Santa Fe Valley and 4S Ranch.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mulch sales benefit Ocean Friendly Gardens Program

As many of you know we are volunteering with Surfrider's Ocean Friendly Gardens Program to help educate homeowners about the impacts that their landscaping choices make on water quality and our local environment. 

Well we aren't the only ones!  El Corazon (aka AgriService Inc.)  in Oceanside is now donating $2 to the local Ocean Friendly Gardens program for every cubic yard of mulch or compost sold!!

Mulch and compost are vital to building healthy living soil in our urban garden environments and are also one of the best ways to conserve soil moisture in your garden!

Check out AgriService Inc's website for more information about the different mulches that they offer!

For more information on the OFG program visit their San Diego blog here.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Finally something for my Los Angeles area clients!

One of my favorite places to visit when I'm in LA is a little greasy spoon called Eatz Cafe (aka Los Feliz Cafe... why on earth did they change the name!?!) on (you guessed it) Los Feliz Blvd. near Griffith Park. The food is old school diner (they actually have fried egg sandwiches!) and you can bring the pooches and go for a nice little walk along the river or take in a round of golf at the little muni course right next door.

But more special than all of that and the close to every visit to Los Feliz is a stop by POTTED to check out what latest garden accessory "the Garden Tarts" have added to their inventory.

This fantastic store features fountains, pottery, one of a kind garden accessories and every other bit of garden fluff you can imagine in everything from modern to whimsical.

If you live in or are visiting the area I highly recommend a visit to see for yourself and choose a fun accent for your own garden!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sustainability Certification and Ocean Friendly Gardens

Heavens how time flies or as my grandmother used to say "tempus fugit"!!

Much has been happening the past several months and I've managed to stay incredibly busy thanks to all of my wonderful clients, nursery and contractor friends who have kept me going!

Along with design work our work with Surfrider's Ocean Friendly Gardens program allowed us to attend the G3 (Green Garden Group's) Sustainability Certification Program last week which was incredibly informative (even for someone who has been promoting native and drought tolerant gardens for her entire career!). I am incredibly thankful to The Surfrider Foundation for putting us through the program and look forward to sharing the wealth of information that was provided!

On that note!! The next series of Ocean Friendly Garden's workshops begin next Tuesday night right here in Encinitas! Even for folks who have already converted their gardens this is a great series of workshops that cover all subjects related to converting and maintaining a low impact landscape (building healthy soils through organic methods, reducing or eliminating rainwater and dry water runoff, efficient irrigation methods, and much more). It also covers information on our water crises here This is essentially a reduced version of the sustainability seminar that we took though G3 so there is something to be learned for professionals as well as homeowners.

For more information and to sign up please visit Surfrider's San Diego OFG Blog and support their efforts to keep our oceans clean and us healthy!

Lastly and on a related subject, Encinitas Chiropractic (who I highly recommend for any Chiropractic and Massage needs!!) will be hosting a Yoga in the Park class on Saturday the 28th at 9:30am in Encinitas at Cottonwood Creek Park. The class is for all levels and is donation only with all proceeds benefiting The Surfrider Foundation (see told you it was related!).

Hope to see you there!!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Del Mar Faire and Surfrider

Whew! It's been another busy month for the designers at Argia and Artemisia Designs and this weekend is no different, here's a quick update on what we've been up to:

Finishing details are all that's left for Jeremy's Rain Vessels installation that we are working on at this year's Del Mar Faire. The exhibit is part of the new Container Garden category and will feature two ceramic Rain Vessels, pottery from Courtyard Pottery and pavers from RCP Block in Encinitas and is featured at the entry to Alvarado House, a historic building preserved at the Fairgrounds.

Join us tomorrow in Birdrock as the Surfrider Foundation hosts their first OFG Garden Assistance Workday where a member's lawn will be replaced with a native garden designed by Jeremy and volunteers will learn more about Ocean Friendly Gardens and how to design and install your own! Garden Assistance Program: June 6th
The event is open to any and all who are interested so stop by at 5560 Chelsea Ave, La Jolla, CA 92037 10 a.m - 4p.m.

Now, back to the drafting board!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Vessels In Rain

Our partner company, Artemisia Landscape Design, is branching out and will be unveiling their new Rain Vessels later this month. Rain water cachement is an ancient method to collect and save rain water for later use and is coming into more popular use with our water crisis. Rain Vessels provide an artistic and aesthetically pleasing alternative to plastic rain barrels and will be available through Courtyard Pottery in the Cedros Design District in Solana Beach.

1" of rain over 1,ooo sqare feet of roof area can yield 6oo gallons of water. Collecting this water for future use not only reduces runoff pollution during rainstorms but saves on water bills when the garden becomes dry. The chlorine free water saved in smaller Rain Vessels can be used as an alternative to tap water for indoor and potted plants as well as a variety of other garden and home uses. Larger cachment systems can irrigate entire landscapes.

I've found them to be incredibly handy myself for keeping water on-hand for all of the potted plants in my patio area, instead of having to haul the hose around knocking over pots and creating a mess. Even after the rainwater has been used you can re-fill it with hose-water, pretty quickly the chlorine in the city water will evaporate and you are left with much healthier water for your plants!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Modern Outdoor Sculpture

Terra Sculpture, a Los Angeles based collaboration between designer Jennifer Asher and metal artist Mario Lopez, provides a line of beautifully sculpted garden art which is both modern and whimsical.

Their website shows their gorgeous selection of metal sculpture which has been featured in Garden Design Magazine and on The Outdoor Room with Jamie Durie (our favorite designer!)

Great for modern gardens but even better for to give that special artistic edge to natural and meadow gardens!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Green Roofs and Living Walls

As Earth's population grows living areas become smaller and our cities grow upward. That leaves alot of vertical space to cover, and what better way to cover it than with beautiful tapestries of plants!

Living walls and green roofs not only create a beautiful and calming atmosphere but they have wonderful benefits for the environment also, releasing more oxygen into the atmosphere and (in the case of roofs and outdoor walls) collecting rainwater thereby reducing runoff.

There is a slight downside in that many of the plants suitable for these gardens are quite shallow rooted and, given the lack of root space available in these situations, they tend to dry out rather quickly and need frequent watering in our arid climate. That makes choosing appropriate plants slightly more difficult in our region, but there is still a wide array of great choices!

The upside (apart from the calming and environmental benefits) are that, within even a limited plant palette, there are countless design options ranging from entire building walls, to tiny wall hangings to grace a well lighted room.

Check out a few of these websites for more ideas!
Mosstika Urban Greenery - Artist

(photos: top Boston art installation by Mosstika, bottom succulent garden art by designer Mia Lehrer)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Lots of Attention in Lakewood!

One of our native gardens in Lakewood is getting lots of special attention lately!

Our clients did a beautiful job installing the walkways, pottery features and native plants that we designed for them last April and their hard work is paying off!

The Los Angeles area native garden will be featured on KTLA Channel 5 on Thursday the 8th (this Thursday!) as well as being included in the Theodore Payne Foundation's Annual Native Garden Tour on Saturday the 10th!

Click here for more information about the tour and for those of you in the L.A. area be sure to tune in this Thursday!

Friday, April 2, 2010

April is here and so officially is garden tour season!

April 18th is the 8th Annual Oceanside Seaside Native Plant Garden Tour hosted by The Buena Vista Native Plant Club. The tour is free and I and other local native plant designers will serve as tour leaders.
Feel free to contact me if you would like to join the tour as part of my group!
Visit the BV Native Plant Club's Website for more tour info.
If you're in the neighborhood that weekend, the 5th Annual Encinitas Garden Festival & Tour will feature south Leucadia gardens and a free Marketplace at Orpheus Park.
Check out more San Diego Garden Tours arriving this month!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Reclaimed Teak Flooring

Just one more in the plethora of great new products we found at this years show!

Indo Teak Custom Flooring is a locally owned company that offers recyled teak flooring from Indonesia. All of their wood is reclaimed from structures so there is no deforestation!

This beautiful tropical hardwood is great for custom designed interior and exterior living areas but too often is harvested unsustainably. This company provides a beautiful product without the environmental impact of unsustainable harvesting.

Check out their site for more examples:

Monday, March 22, 2010

Surfrider Ocean Friendly Garden Workshops

Surfrider Foundation has recently set up a new Ocean Friendly Gardens program to encourage homeowners and businesses to install or retrofit their landscapes to become more ocean friendly. Ocean Friendly Gardens (or OFG's) reduce runoff pollution, are drought tolerant, and need little or no fertilizers or chemicals to look beautiful!

Exactly what makes an OFG and how do you design and install one?

Sign up for their new series of workshops starting this April to find out!

Check it out!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Old Surfboard + Outdoor Shower = Awesome Idea!!

This year's Best of Show garden featured some great ideas! It was there that we found the bee houses featured in the previous post which went along perfectly with the veggie garden, which was the perfect compliment for the pizza oven, which was decorated with gorgeous mosaic...(kind of like that nursery rhyme about swallowing a fly)... which was designed by the same artists that designed this fantastic outdoor shower!

Made with a recycled surfboard (#8 reason not to throw away those old boards!!), mosaic, and some fittings these great outdoor showers are an awesome addition to any coastal garden! Each board/shower is custom designed by artists Will and Jane Fowler so each board is a unique work of art.

Check out their great website for more photos of their beautiful boards and other mosaic designs!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bee Houses!! wait....Bee Houses?!?

Yep, you heard right! But not for the kind of bee you're thinking of, these nests are for the little known but quite industrious native bee. These little bees are very different from the imported honeybee that most of us are familiar with and while the honeybee has a reputation for being a bit, well, sting-y, native bees are quite docile, so much so that most people hardly know they exist!

So if we hardly knew they existed why do we want to encourage them into our gardens? Well, with the current crisis with the honeybee population (number are dwindling because of pesticide use and disease) we stand to lose more than just honey. Bees are one of the major pollinators and without pollination most plants are not able to produce fruit, vegetables, seeds, and new plants. Basically, no pollinators=no new plants.

Thankfully, native bees are great pollinators and encouraging them into the garden is a safe (and now fashionable!) way to maintain a healthy and diverse population of native pollinators!
Check out sculptor Greg Corman's blog to see more examples of his beautiful Native Bee Nests (all hand-made from Recycled Wood and Steel) and to learn more about why native bees are so important:
You can also check out this great article on California's native bees for more info:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Morgan's Best of Show Pic's

The garden show may be over but we walked away with tons of gorgeous photos, fun ideas, and great sources for the garden! We'll have plenty to share with you over the next couple of weeks!

So, without further ado, we'd like to share our pic's from what we thought were this year's greatest gardens :
Morgan's Best of Show

Check out for more info about this year's gardens.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Farewell Spring Home and Garden Show....

Today we said 'adieu' to this year's Spring Home and Garden Show at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. All of the gardens that were so lovingly assembled over the course of last week have disappeared surprisingly fast, leaving little more than piles of dirt and building block but also leaving us with lots of wonderful design ideas and, most importantly, photos!!

So on that note, here are some photos of our contribution to this year's show. Thank you to everyone who contributed to our garden and much thanks to everyone who stopped by to enjoy it!

The Artful Native Garden:
Winner: Best San Diego Adapted Landscape

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Peak Bloom Season has begun in Anza Borrego!!!

((Thanks to Tom Chester of the CNPS for sharing!))

Peak bloom began on the desert floor ~23 February 2010, at elevations of ~1000 feet and below. About half of the desert annuals have begun blooming, with the rest to follow in the next month. This is the exciting phase of peak bloom, where every trip reveals additional species blooming, and finds fields of bloom from species that only had a few individuals blooming just a week earlier.

Peak bloom at elevations of ~1000 feet on the desert floor should continue for at least several weeks, through ~7 March. Its end will come whenever the temperatures hit 80° or above for a week or two. Peak bloom in the canyons to the west of Borrego Springs should begin in a few weeks, sometime in early March.

Peak bloom is defined here as the time period when you can see the maximum number of species in bloom on a given one or two day trip, as well as the maximum number of individual plants in bloom. The bloom is best from the city of Borrego Springs westward; it has not been observed to be very good at all east of there. The best places to go now are along Coyote Canyon Road, and the main canyons west of Borrego Springs: Hellhole, Borrego Palm Canyon, and Henderson Canyon.The desert sunflowers on Henderson Canyon have not yet begun to bloom; they are coming.
Check out the latest reports and photos at Desert USA

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Gathering Plants for the Show!

Today we took a field trip to RECON Native Plants down in IB to look at plants that we might use for our upcoming installation for the Spring Home and Garden Show. We picked out some beautiful flowering bulbs (including one rare gem that is a secret until the show!!), some flowering June Grass and some Red Monkeyflower that should be a great addition to the other gorgeous plants we picked out from Tree of Life yesterday.

It was so hard deciding on plants at both nurseries! Tree of Life has some gorgeous manzanita in all sizes (including some 5g Del Mar Manzanita that it was painful to pass up since, as Jeremy pointed out, they are native to the site of the show!). We decided at last on Pacific Mist and Carmel Sur, two of our favorites.

RECON has some great specimins available now including Giant Coreopsis (which is like a daisy out of a Dr. Seuss book) and some gorgeous 5g Yucca (both whipplii and shidigera). Not to mention all of the San Diego native Sages, Sunflowers, and other cool finds!

In the end I had to cut some great plants out simply to prevent the design from being too full! I will definitely be keeping them in mind for someone's garden though!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Pottery: Not just for plants anymore!

Try to install a landscape with only plants and you get the sneaking feeling that something is just missing... Pottery! Pots are a great addition to any landscape from modern to rustic and are much more than just fancy planters. A large glazed pot can make a lovely stand-alone focal feature, well sealed urns can be converted to make great rain barrels or small water features, and no patio is complete without at least one potted plant!

Courtyard Pottery in Solana Beach, owned and run by designer Tita Heimpel, is my absolute favorite resource for pottery in San Diego County. With a huge selection of glazed pottery ranging from huge imported planters to tiny hand-made tabletop treasures there is little that cannot be found at Courtyard, and if you don't see what you are looking for Tita will order it for you from one of her many suppliers.

Formerly located on Hwy 101 in Solana Beach, Courtyard Pottery has recently moved to a larger location almost directly across the train tracks to the Cedros Design District across from the Belly Up. After picking out your pottery you can head down the street to Cedros Gardens to pick out plants or over to the beach for a surf check!

Courtyard Pottery (858) 481-7687

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Las Pilitas Nursery

Whether you are looking for native plants for the garden or whether you're simply looking for a great source for CA native plant knowledge, Las Pilitas Native Plant Nursery is a great resource!

Their website is an outstanding resource for information with thousands of pages of information about native plant communities, proper installation and planning, and general plant information.

On the website you'll find an alphabetized encyclopedia of native plant species ranging from commonly planted cultivars to rare and endangered species that are hard to find even in the wild. You'll also find a great search engine that will take your zipcode and site conditions and produce a list of species suited to your garden's conditions.

Their two locations, in Escondido and Santa Margarita (near SLO), are just off the beaten path but well worth the trip to find not only some of our more common native landscape plants like Manzanita and Sages but also rarer gems like Leopard Lilies and SpiceBush.

Check out their website at for more information!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Save the Rain!

With today's water shortages and the continuing development of Southern California everyone is looking for ways to save water whenever and wherever possible. Rain barrels and other water catchment systems are a wonderful way to save and re-use rainwater in the garden as well as reduce runoff pollution from your property!

Do an internet search on 'rain barrels' and you will likely come up with a vast array of recycled blue or grey plastic barrels. Great for saving water but not so visually appealing that you would want to incorporate them as part of your landscape...

The good news is that if you dig a little deeper and use your imagination there are countless options for rain barrels that are not only functional but artistic as well! For those who want to get even more creative you can make your own rain barrel out of ceramic pottery, an old wine barrel, or even an old oil barrel. All you need is a drill, a brass hose spigot and a few other materials and your container can be transformed into a unique and useful work of art.

Check out some of these great sites for ideas and practical info on buying or creating your own rain barrel or water catchment system: a design group specializing in Greywater and Environmental Design
This company in Oregon creates beautiful rain barrels from recycled whiskey and wine barrels
The Rainwater Harvesting Community

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lawns aren't good for the environment? Who knew?

Well, I didn't really intend to go on and on about my anti-lawn crusade but this is rather interesting:

(Thanks to Dave Varner of the CNPSSD for sharing)

Grass for city parks may add to greenhouse-gas emissions

Creating urban parks might seem like an effective way to sequester more carbon. But maintaining the turfgrass for these green spaces can actually release more greenhouse gases than the grass absorbs, researchers say.

Based on a study of four parks in Irvine, California, the team determined that athletic fields did not sequester organic carbon, probably because they underwent frequent tilling and sod replacement. Fertilization also caused emissions of the powerful greenhouse gas nitrous oxide, estimated at 0.1 to 0.3 grams of nitrogen per square meter annually.

The study, in press at Geophysical Research Letters, notes that the parks’ lawns did store organic carbon. But this benefit was outweighed by carbon dioxide emissions from irrigation, fertilizer production, and fuel for tasks such as mowing and leaf-blowing. In short, these green expanses seem to be contributing to global warming – not counteracting it. – Roberta Kwok

Source: Townsend-Small, A., & Czimczik, C. (2010). Carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions in urban turf Geophysical Research Letters DOI: 10.1029/2009GL041675

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ending our Love Affair with Lawns

The lush green lawn has been a symbol of prosperityfor as long as any of us can remember. It harkens back to old wealthy estates of the East Coast and Europe with acres of rolling green turf, great for polo, croquet, and ladies laying around on blankets in sun dresses and wide brimmed hats while the men take the boat for a row in the lake.

All of this is lovely, or would be if we lived in Connecticut. The reality though is that our climate is slightly (hint of sarcasm there) less lawn friendly . Recently, though, the misconception that Southern California is some sort of semi-tropical paradise is finally meeting the reality of our water shortages and how shall we say this ... 'the honeymoon is over'?

All over the Southwest lawns are being pulled up in favor of more drought tolerant and less maintenance intensive landscapes and the results are impressive:
  • Habitat Gardens full of flowering shrubs are bringing birds, butterflies, and lizards back into our gardens.

  • Rain Gardens (so called because they are designed to either store all rainwater or allow it to permeate the soil) are preventing thousands of gallons of polluted runoff from entering our watersheds each year.

  • Native Gardens are restoring habitat destroyed by development.

All of these gardens not only use up to 70% less water than lawns but require almost no fertilizers and other chemicals and pesticides to thrive in our hot, dry climate and, to top it all off, any of these gardens can be designed in a multitude of garden styles from Modern to Asian, Desert to Mediterranean.

So, are you ready to end your love affair with your lawn?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Shopping for Garden Style with Ideabooks and Blogs

One of the first things I ask a client during a design consultation is if they have an idea of what garden style they would like for their new landscape. I will often encourage clients to save magazine clippings or other photos of gardens and plants that they like so that I can get a better idea of their tastes and so design a garden that reflects their personal style as much as the style of the home and surrounding environment.

Well, carrying around a multitude of books, magazine clippings, and portfolios can be burdensome and requires the client to make on the spot decisions with only a few resources. Now, with the wide array of design blogs and other sites on the internet, photosharing and ideabooks can make the design process that much easier.

One of my new favorite design sites (for interior as well as exterior design ideas) is Houzz , a fantastic design site where designers have uploaded thousands of photos of design ideas all organized into style and space.

But what makes Houzz rise even further above the typical design site is the ability to create your own ideabook, allowing anyone to save and share ideas that they like! A fantastic way for clients to shop for the garden themes, styles, and artistic elements that they love!

Check out my ideabook at
then create your own to save and share your ideas!