The garden at the Williams-Sonoma original store


I was in Sonoma last weekend and happened upon the original Williams-Sonoma store, which was just reopened a couple of years ago. Which is cool and everything but YOU GUYS there is a garden in the back and it is gorgeous.

It’s simple and green and immaculate and perfect. The few pictures I took with my phone don’t do it justice, unfortunately.


Icee Blue Podocarpus (I must have this NOW) underplanted with bronze heuchera


More of the vegetable garden and patio which is bordered by dwarf olives and two potted citrus trees at the entrance to the dining space.


Gardening tips from Flora Grubb Gardens

flora grubb gardens

I finally visited the world’s coolest plant nursery, Flora Grubb Gardens. There is so much inspiration here for creating stunning gardens and outdoor living spaces with low maintenance, water wise plants, and every kind of succulent under the sun (and lots of gorgeous stuff for indoor plants too). They also offer design services and classes, and the staff is unbelievably friendly, helpful, and knowledgable. Here’s what I learned from this visit:

  • Go for low maintenance plants that thrive in your soil, water, and light situation. Be realistic about how much time you have for watering and other gardening work.
  • Get your color and drama with foliage instead of flowers.
  • Your garden will feel bigger and be more functional if you divide it into spaces: living areas, passageways
  • Containers provide color and (flexible) structure. Use containers in a variety of sizes but in similar colors and materials.
  • Invest in large scale containers the way you would in hardscaping or furniture.
  • Use multiples: repeat plants, plant types, containers, and objects for a more cohesive look.
  • Plant and accessorize your vertical spaces.
  • Shop your local nurseries. While I do use the big box stores, there’s no substitute for a local nursery and the deep knowledge the staff has of the plants.

flora grubb gardens

Garden reading: Judy Kameon’s Gardens are for Living

gardens are for living

I’ve been a huge fan of Judy Kameon and her dramatic, laid back, low maintenance gardens and outdoor living spaces for years. I’ve also been on a simplicity kick, trying very hard to pare down and own less, but when I saw that her book had gone on sale I had to order it. This is the way you want to garden – and live.

More about styling your garden the way you style your home here.

Boxwood, garden problem-solver

boxwood in a box at filoli

I don’t know if the gardeners at Filoli were going for a visual pun here, but I do love the look of these planters. Something like this would give you structure and some greenery and height wherever you need it.

There are endless varieties of boxwood so it can fill just about any need in your garden. It’s endlessly versatile IF you take care of it. Boxwood needs some maintenance to keep it looking its lush, leafy best. Otherwise, plant something else. Trust me, I have seen some pretty sorry looking boxwood around here.

I sometimes see boxwood referred to as drought tolerant. It’s not California drought tolerant. Here, it needs regular water and food.

Boxwood needs to be clipped regularly. Infrequent, hard pruning gives you sharp edges and lots of brown stem ends showing through. Here is a great pruning guide.

Boxwood is at its best when it’s neat, structured, and symmetrical. Don’t let it turn into some weirdly pruned, misshapen orb.

Below boxwood is used on the left as to edge low border and on its own as a taller hedge on the right:

boxwood edged flower border

Here giving structure to a tiny, formal garden:

small difficult spaces

And here in a small supporting role:

courtyard garden at Filoli