Creative Landscapes ~ Sloped Yards

Landscaping a sloping hillside yard can be challenging…

In this article by Laura Gaskill, one of my favorite go to research writers at Houzz, she has put together a terrific collection of ideas on how to landscape difficult hillsides. Pictured in the first selection are retaining walls made of stacked Arizona sandstone, slate and bluestone. Contemporary Landscape by Berkeley Landscape Contractors Mariposa Gardening & Design.


Spring Color

Currently available at Emily Joubert in Woodside ~ Along with candles, table linens, fine crystal, plants, outdoor cafe furniture, stylish planting pots, select table salts, gourmet candies, John Derian plates, freshly pressed coffees, childrens’ gifts and all things home and life related.

Mon – Sat 930-6 Sunday 10-5
3036 Woodside Road
Woodside, CA 94062 650-851-3520
Photos by Katherine Westerman


Got Shade? Need Plants?

Deep Shade Plants Thrive Beneath Tree Canopies: A condition found in most gardens is deep shade. Canopy-loving plants like hosts and ferns thrive in these locations.

If you love green in your garden but have a plethora of shade from a canopy of trees here are some great plant ideas. These plants thrive in shade adding color and contrast at the same time.

Hostas Love Shady Areas of the Garden I love the two toned Hosta in this picture. It is a popular midsized plant with pointy leaves that vary in color from frosty blue green to variegated bright green. The hosta is a superb grower with slug resistant thick leaves and flowers that attract hummingbirds.


Hydrangeas love shade and reward you with a variety of long lasting blossoms.

Beautiful Hydrangea

Heuchera Coral Bells

Heucheras come in a wide variety of colors—from chartreuse to red to purple to pink—and can be paired with other vibrant foliage plants like foamflower (Tiarella) or hosta varieties.


Ferns, ligularia, variegated Solomon’s sea combine to create a soothingly cool spot to relax, read a book or just enjoy a peaceful moment.
Throwing Some Shade
Image courtesy of Kim Visokey
Summer Flowers Thriving in Partial Shade
Some varieties of flowers that thrive in shade are viburnum, flowering tobacco, honeysuckle, cardinal flower and aruncus.

If your garden area is dark and damp, rodgersias are extremely handsome plants primarily grown for their foliage and love wet soil. The woodland plants perform well in water gardens and shade gardens. Other plants that thrive at the edge of a shady pond include giant rhubarb, sedge and rush which can tolerate standing water.

Wetland Plants
Photos courtesy of Dorling Kindersley, Lynn Coulter, Proven Winners

Cool Fencing Ideas ~

Establishing an aesthetic boundary …. while protecting your foliage from our voracious deer population!
While privacy in our homes seems to be of paramount importance in this time of internet exposure, I love the melding of property separation with the beauty and creativity of these fences.
The combination of the open fencing set into a lower wall adds a creative contemporary design perspective.
Posts anchor nearly transparent vinyl-coated stainless steel mesh to provide safety yet still allow the visibility of the pool.

Here is a cost effective way to create an open fence concept on a budget.  Lumberyard wood and Re-bar. Good idea for keeping dogs out of fruit bearing orchards!


Chic Chicken Coops!

Versailles has gone to the chickens! Palais de Poulets.

Le Petit Trianon, Marie Antoinette’s Versailles retreart redesigned in this multilevel chicken suite. Featured at Neiman Marcus this coop includes a nesting area, a chandelier, a “living room,” and a library to house your chicken and gardening books. Much cheaper than the original at $100,000! Included in the cost is a $3,000 donation to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. Courtesy of Neiman Marcus.

Who doesn’t love re-purposed barn siding…….

An old cupola finds new life as a chicken coop on the stunning grounds of an Ohio farmhouse.

Modern & Contemporary but still practical for your hens!

Architect Mitchell Snyder built this modern-style coop, a four-foot cube with reclaimed cedar siding and a green roof on top, where native Oregon sedums grow. Custom pricing.

Cape Cod Cluckers….Cackling away!

Photo stylist Heather Bullard’s amazing Cape Cod-inspired chicken coop. She and her husband built it themselves using stock building materials and hardware from Home Depot. Get the architectural plans to build your own for $39.

Avant-Garde…..Chez Poulet!

One of the most architectural-minded hen houses … this so-called Breed Retreat was created by Dutch designer Frederik Roije.

Hen and Hobbit Haven!

Once a decrepit shed….transformed into a charming chicken hideaway…how quaint!

Raised Herb Garden & Hen House!

This $1,500 red cedar chicken coop from Williams-Sonoma performs double-duty by allowing you to grow herbs and vegetables in a raised garden attached to your hens’ dwelling—a drainage system keeps water from falling into the run below.

Bill Wright for Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaw

Excerpted from

Garden Art


I have a few of these Antique Urns in my garden at home and I love the pitted patinas that they develop over time.  If you leave them in a shaded area the porous nature of the urn will grow a beautiful green moss on them.  Whether you put globes in them or greenery they add a dimension to your landscaping similar to what a sculpture would elicit, a bit of artistry outside. You can also bring them inside and use them to accent your dining room table with Hurricane Lanterns like these shown below. Using a Linen runner on the table under the urns I’d place the Faux Topiary Containers on the table and then scatter  small 4 ”  Topiary rounds around the display.  Finish off with antique glass tea candle holders and you have a terrific table scape with romantic lighting ideal for dining.  If you want to add color to the muted tones of the table, small glass vases with the flower of your choice will make the table pop with color.

Nearly Natural Cedar Ball...Pack of 6 Outdoor Patio...

Drought Landscaping 2014

Functional Attractive Fences

Privacy and light all in one linear design ~ clean, contemporary & efficient.
Fences have always served as a barrier to either keep people & animals in or out. With the constant and ever present focus on transparency in our private and business lives we as homeowners welcome the combination of architectural creativity in the garden with the need for privacy. Landscape designers are lending their talent to redefining fences by utilizing products that have previously not been explored in perimeter and decorative fencing. Visual fluidity, light, continuity, functional design all come together in these examples of Fencing Circa 2014.
Gateless privacy ~ allows easy access while still blocking the street view.
Protective and transparent ~ this pool fencing provides safety and a fluid visual aesthetic.

Windy city breezes vs Million $$ views ~ Everybody wins with this roof top patio fence.



Marriage of Architecture through Landscaping

In today’s marketplace new home owners are routinely faced with the multiple challenges of uniting past owners design choices with their own.  Whether the home is the result of  multiple remodels – tastefully done or not, a shortage of parking space or mixed architectural styles buyers will need to aesthtically assess what works best for them practically and visually. “Eclecticism in design is trickier than it seems. Combine several styles or elements together, and the risk of nothing standing out is great — as is the risk for, well, a cacophonous mess.” June Scott, Landscape Designer. She feels that uniting contrasting architectural styles and landscaping can be done through the basic principals of design; graphic mix, texture, mass planting, proportion and historical relevance.
Creative and balanced the design of the front yard pictured above offers a modern perspective to the property while providing additional parking space. The lawn and raised wooden deck compliment the traditional architecture. Symmetry defined through the collaboration of modern and traditional. Austin Outdoor.
Two styles of architecture in a small space can be united through complimentary landscaping creating a unique design. Yellow Kangaroo Paws and Coleonema “Sunset Gold” frame this outdoor dining area and highlight the sand textured deep green flat stucco exterior of this modern as well as traditional home. Bilden Architects.
Landscape designer June Scott emphasizes, “simple planes or masses of plants can help bring balance and unity to homes with more than one architectural style.” The simplicity of the planting in this front yard minimizes the multiple styles of the home’s facade. Shades of Green Landscape Architecture.
The proportions of this homes exterior were used to design the complimentary landscaping. The tall linear lines of the windows and doorway create a visual that is carried through the walkway into the backyard of this San Francisco Victorian.  Feldman Architecture.