Deanna Foster Garden Design
This project was a response to some very specific needs. My clients had lost their house and most of their landscaping in the Jesusitas Fire in Santa Barbara in May 2009. They were able to rebuild using many new fire resistant features in their replacement house. I was called in to design the landscaping around the house which also required fire resistant features. I decided to use succulents even though I was just learning about them. I thought they were beautiful and could make a spectacular, fire-resistant design. Succulents also go very well with the gravel mulch required in the high fire zones in Santa Barbara and with the boulders on the property. My clients fell in love with succulents and once we discovered a good source for cactus they kept asking for more! The most exciting part of this project for me was the growing interest my clients took in the project. When I started they were exhausted from the rebuild of their house and told me to just do whatever I thought would look nice, but as the project progressed they became more and more interested and involved. Who could resist those succulents and Cacti?!
I grew up on the San Francisco Peninsula, lived in Redwood City and Woodside and eventually lived in San Francisco in my twenties. I spent some time in the art department at San Francisco State University where I pursued painting and printmaking. That training and my love of texture and color most definitely inform my landscape design. I then moved to England where I fell in love with “gardens” as all landscaping is called over there. When I came back to the States and met my husband we lived in Northern Virginia where I had my horticulture and garden design training and did my first gardens. Moving back to California changed the plants I would use but not the design and horticulture principals that should be applied to all landscaping. When I approached my project with succulents I approached it as a landscape design project first and then chose the plants to fit the needs and my design sensibilities. I believe this made for a very pleasing and harmonious finished garden that does show off the succulents beautifully. And I didn’t need to be an expert on succulents when I began; I had to be willing to learn about them and which would work for the site conditions and the effect I was seeking.
My clients are very pleased. Everyone who comes to their house exclaims over the garden. I fell in love with succulents and highly recommend their use. Be creative, mix them with other dry plants and with grasses, mix them with gravel and unusual stone mulches; mix them with boulders. Think about their colors in sun, in shade, in bloom; think about how some of them even move in the breeze. They do change with the seasons; their interest is endless. Try mixing them with Mediterranean plants or California natives. They are a designer’s dream!
I am now living in Aptos and am about to begin a project in Los Altos that will use succulents. I am excited!
All photos by Deanna Foster