An International Garden in Ojai, California, by Grace Design Associates

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This design was a challenge for Grace Design Associates: the client, originally from New Zealand, is a woman who’s had gardens all over the world — and wanted “the world” in her spot in Ojai. This required Grace to integrate elements from the Middle East, Europe, Asia, the Mediterranean, and — of course — California, into one cohesive landscape in which the owner could have a green “escape” for private moments and a space for entertaining. It also took more than a little flexibility on the designer’s part; the client wanted what she called “Pencil Cypress” but which, Margie Grace realized, was Italian Cypress. And “I was prejudiced against Italian Cypress…they always looked out of place and out of scale.” Nevertheless, the client insisted: “I must have Pencil Cypress…I can still picture them in the gardens of Iran!”

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Needless to say, the client got pencil cypress — some 20 of them that form a border for one garden space. But that’s just part of this collection of gardens. One is all roses, with copper balls atop the rustic trellis posts. Others are a “cottage garden” with hardy Mediterranean plants; a herb garden with “seeds from near and far,” with a copper sprinkler; and a formal geometric garden organized around a fountain and two arbors, sheltering patios where the client entertains — within view of the chaparral-covered Topatopa Mountains. Is the client pleased? Yes, so much that she’s looking forward to another project, a contemplative outdoor “study.” Its site will be beneath live oaks and tucked amid green space, where she’ll put a table and chairs, with electricity for her coffeepot and laptop…and write her memoirs.

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