Greenwood Design Associates is closed. Please feel free to browse my portfolio and to contact me about other adventures here or through LinkedIn.

A Tropical Oasis in Palo Alto

I was recently invited to do a “refresh” of a property in Palo Alto that I first designed in 2006. This small garden is used intensively by a busy family of four. There were a few frayed edges, along with opportunities to fill in little problem spots. The homeowners had also decided they wanted MORE. …

Structure in a Country Garden

How do you create open space for fun and play, while keeping maintenance low? Creating structured spaces with raised beds and gravel can meet several design challenges at once. This country garden is located at the entry to a three acre property on the coastside. Most of the property is open grassy area or pasture …

Tea in a coastside ranch garden

These photos are from last summer, taken when I stopped by for tea in a garden planted earlier last spring. Since moving out to the coast a few years ago, I’ve been invited to work on several local gardens. The microclimates are quite different on this side of the hill (as opposed to the SF …

Over the past 14 years, I’ve enjoyed collaborating with my clients, and all the contractors and artisans who've helped bring these awesome gardens to life. Thank you! Now it’s time for me to go in a new direction. As of July 2016, Greenwood Design Associates will be completing all currently active project work and closing up shop. Thank you for your loyal support as my business has grown and evolved. Please stay in touch with me through Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and my Sweet Hollow Almanac garden blog.

Fall in Love with California Plants

By now, most Californians are aware that we need to cut water use dramatically. That doesn’t mean you need to have an ugly brown lawn! Use this opportunity to fall in love with drought-tolerant native plants that attract birds, bees, and butterflies to your garden!

On location in Michigan

I’m taking a quick break from designing a *completely* native California garden to fly out to Michigan! Visiting Suzhou last fall gave me a whole new sense for how important a unique sense of place is to the soul of a garden.

To help my clients feel at home in their new house, I want to combine a few elements of California style with a local Michigan plant palette. We’re going to do a little exploring!

San Francisco Flower and Garden Show Gallery

Even after years — perhaps a lifetime — of living in California, people still have trouble really understanding that nature does things differently here. Because the weather tends to be cold in Winter and warm in Summer, it’s easy to think that we have just a milder version of other people’s climate. So they buy into the classic idea of weather. We all know what that’s supposed to be. We’ve seen the calendars and read the books. So we think we know how plants develop. Every basic plant and gardening book describes how they start growing when the ground warms up in Spring, mature to fullness in the Summer, and after a blaze of color, die down in Fall. In Winter, everything is dormant except the evergreen trees and a few bushes, which are invisible anyway under snow, ice or spat- tered mud. We are reinforced in our thinking that this is the way things are when we grow exotics. The vast majority of Californians who garden engage in truly epic struggles, nursing exotic garden plants that don’t belong here, trying to cope with lack of water, fighting disease and insects, fertilizing endlessly, and never recognizing how the process works for plants that evolved here. It’s only obvious when you have the facts in hand and look around. If you’re new to natives, put those preconceptions aside and imagine you are preparing to land on another planet. Someone gives you a briefing book about the ecology of your new home. The rules are strange, different, you read. The plant life begins growing (mostly underground) with the first rain and chill of Fall. All Winter plants gather their resources and prepare for the glory of Spring. In Summer they slow to an amble or go entire-ly dormant, staying that way until the cold and rains return in Fall. They’re fussy, too, not having experienced decades of hybridization. They resent having their roots handled roughly, seldom appreciate trimming, don’t like to be transplanted or watered out of season and are likely to up and die on you if you violate their requirements. The soil harbors many bizarre fungi, and only the long dry season keeps the pathogenic forms — which thrive on a combination of heat and water — in check. But they’re tough when it comes to environmental hazards. They thrive in rocky, infertile soils, handle freeze and drought with aplomb, provide hundreds of edible and/or medicinally active species, and often offer very attractive displays of line, form, foliage, bloom and fruit — all with no attention from so- called higher forms of life. That other planet, of course, is California. Louise Lacey, Growing Native
%d bloggers like this: