Ages and ages ago (last July in fact) a bunch of us garden bloggers visited gardens in Northern California at last summer’s meetup known as the Fling. For the temperate Bay Area, it was an incredibly hot day, and we were all slightly wilted as we trooped into the Testa-Vought garden, designed by Bernard Trainor, where the gracious hosts offered refreshments and bade us to cool our feet in their pool. At that point, we were probably all dangerously close to begging for bathing suits. Not surprisingly, this was a garden I had to be pried from and forcibly scooted back onto the bus by our patient tour organizer, landscape designer Kelly Kilpatrck of Floradora. Amazing how quickly we revert to kindergartenish behavior when there’s a bus involved. Eventually, I did put down my glass of wine and made some lame attempts at photos. What I really wanted was to forget the camera entirely, have another glass of wine, and learn how to play the game of bocce.
The Testa Vought garden had quite a few Australian plants, like acacia and grevillea, many selected by the owner, who according to Trainor is a hands-on plant devotee.
Never mind any of my other sunstruck photos because there’s a new book out on this designer’s work, “Landprints; The Landscape Designs of Bernard Trainor,” text by Susan Heeger, photography by Jason Liske and Marion Brenner. There’s so many interesting homes on design blogs now, but more often than not my reaction is predictably: How could such exquisite taste be so indifferent to what’s outside the house? For those who consider the landscape a low priority, this book is a primer on how, in the right hands, the landscape design just might change your life.
Photo on the book’s cover
Mr. Trainor was the speaker at the November meeting of the Southern California Horticultural Society. The Aussie accent is barely perceptible now, but his boyhood spent surfing and sailing the Morningside Peninsula south of Melbourne, where silver banksia (Banksia marginata) presses in on coastal trails, is ultimately what attracted him to the western coast of North America, and specifically another peninsula, the Monterey Peninsula. Many of the following photos accompanied Mr. Trainor’s talk.
The “meadow” pool. After this project, many of his clients are now clamoring for a meadow pool of their own.
What looks like native scrub/chapparal planting is all the work of Trainor, which after settling in is sustained on rainfall alone.
In this garden, Trainor had to persuade the stone masons that leaving pockets for plants would not destabilize the stairs.
Though the book predominantly documents properties of extensive acreage, with insistent views of land, forest, ocean and sky, here’s an example of Trainor at work in a small space.
On the bigger properties, low walls frame views, slow winds, and guide the eye, but are rarely used to completely enclose or isolate one from the surrounding landscape.
(The next Fling for 2014 heads to Portland!)