catching up with Dustin Gimbel

This has really been Dustin’s year, and I think a recap is in order.

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Dustin Gimbel, Second Nature Garden Design

In early 2017 Dustin and Potted launched his Point Pot.

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Long Beach’s own “communal dining space,” Steelcraft, let us play around with some Point Pots at their shiny new outdoor venue, which cleverly repurposes multiple shipping containers to house food vendors. (Thank you, Kimberly!)

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After all, Long Beach is one of the biggest ports in the world, and containers stacked and stretching seemingly to the horizon is a familiar sight now. (But it wasn’t always so. I vividly remember my dad’s “On The Waterfront” cargo hook in the back of our VW bug before the harbor was fully containerized and goods still came in burlap sacks or loose piles in ships’ holds that had to be stevedored by big muscles. Malcom McLean forever changed all that.)

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The Point Pot at Steelcraft seemed like a good fit. I’m a fan of the potential of empty vessels of all kinds, whether filled with tillandsias or ramen shops. It’s all a matter of scale.

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Love the name of this microbrewery. (Los Angeles aka Smog City — might as well own it.)

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Dustin’s pace this year makes me feel like I’m moving at the speed of an old Galapagos tortoise. He’s a one-man artists’ colony. Luckily, there will be a couple opportunities for you to catch up with Dustin this spring.

The first opportunity will be April 27-30 at the Southern California Spring Garden Show, where he’s been a frequent contributor. I have no idea what he’s whipping up this year so I’ll be as surprised as you.

The second opportunity will be a tour of his private garden May 6-7 via the Mary Lou Heard Memorial Garden Tour. It was at Mary Lou’s legendary, much-loved nursery many years ago that I first met teen-aged Dustin, before he apprenticed at Great Dixter, Heronswood, Greenlee’s nursery, etc, etc.

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And his private garden is currently looking exceptionally fine, having been primped and and tricked out for a photo shoot that will grace the pages sometime next year of one of the West Coast’s premiere garden/lifestyle magazines. Ferrying Mitch to the airport a couple days ago, I took a detour to Dustin’s and pushed Mitch out the door to grab some quick photos. Because everything was just so perfect.

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Fermob with matching California poppies. Perfect, right?
Dustin was hoping the Aristolochia gigantea would be in full bloom for the shoot, but alas gardens don’t always cooperate with such human timetables. But I bet it’s in bloom for the upcoming tour.

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Orange planter in back is vintage, the low white bowls in foreground are Dustin’s.

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This might be my favorite out of his new Robby the Robot/Forbidden Planet series.

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The shelving was newly built to accommodate the burgeoning number of pieces coming out of his studio just behind that wall.
The center, legged piece has been dubbed, if I remember correctly, “lambypants.” (Or maybe I just made that up.)

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Ripe lemons snuggle up to the totems now.

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The aristolochia vine just coming into bloom.

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The front garden this year is predominantly white, silver and green, with touches of orange from aloes, leucospermum, and leonotis.
Linen-white Minoan lace, the umbellifer Orlaya grandiflora, is just coming into bloom among agaves, weeping acacias, and lots of other treasures.
See for yourself this May. Check out the maps and other info on the self-guided tour here.

All photos by MB Maher

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19 Responses to catching up with Dustin Gimbel

  1. Peter/Outlaw says:

    What a talent, what a garden! I always enjoy your tours of Dustin’s awesomeness!

  2. hb says:

    Such a talented fellow. I knew success was in store.

    Aside: my security software still complains about your site… 🙁

  3. Alison says:

    What a fabulous treat it would be to go on that tour. I’m not sure if Dustin’s work is available up here anywhere, but I’d love to find one of those point pots, or one of the robot ones.

  4. Kris P says:

    Dustin’s garden looks fabulous! I fell in love with the windowed fence all over again. His pots are wonderful too. Do you know if he’s going to be selling his pots at the South Coast show in addition to designing one of the exhibit spaces? As an aside, I was pleased to see that South Coast has put more vendors back on their list this year, with the Desert to Jungle listing being the most surprising. I wonder if someone has purchased the rights to Gary Hammer’s former nursery?

  5. Nell says:


    This is masterful use of restraint that gives orange its power and makes its appeal so strong that you are actually left wanting just a *little* more of it. When has that last happened with orange?

    Already in a weak-for-Leucospermums mood thanks to Piece of Eden, so the soft gold-orange one landed quite a blow.

    Thanks very much to Mitch for these photos (and to you, the pushy mom! ).

  6. Sue says:

    So different from what I’m used to seeing here but oh so wonderful! I love the pops of orange. Such talent.

  7. Pam/Digging says:

    Wonderful pics of Dustin’s garden and the art that’s such a playful and intrinsic part of it. I hope the magazine that he appears in is one I can find here in Austin (Sunset?). Congrats on your successes, Dustin!

  8. Wow! Thanks for the great photos Mitch, and mom. I do hope to see Dustin’s garden in person the next time I am in your part of the world….

  9. Denise says:

    The trick is to see all the gardens we want to see in spring, especially here in LA, and sometimes that makes it difficult, doesn’t it? I’m doing my best this spring…

  10. Denise says:

    Pam, the light was already past magic hour but sometimes you’ve just gotta grab some photos. Perfect is the enemy of the good, etc.

  11. Denise says:

    Sue, he has a color sense similar to yours, with the pops of strong orange or blue.

  12. Denise says:

    Peter, I have to return the favor of the the great tours on your blog. Somebody has to entertain us!

  13. Denise says:

    Hoov, please come and see on the Heard tour!

  14. Denise says:

    Allison, the store Potted handles his Point Pot exclusively, and you can mail order it from them:

  15. Denise says:

    Kris, I hadn’t heard that about Hammer’s nursery. Interesting!

  16. Denise says:

    Nell, yes, it seems to me as Dustin’s garden ages he keeps streamlining the planting, adding to the multiples and repetition and focusing on sight lines. It gets more and more muscular, sculptural.

  17. David Feix says:

    Wish I had some better connections to the LA garden scene, but just don’t get down there much anymore without my Gary Hammer connection anymore. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Jenny says:

    I can’t say too many times how I love that garden fence with the windows. And the opening scene with the orange chairs and sticks on fire just perfect. Why can’t I get mine to do that! His ceramics are incredible…….everything about his whole garden shouts ‘creativity’ Thanks for another tour of his fabulous garden.

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