These homeowners had lovingly built a 10,000-square foot home overlooking the coastline at Santa Barbara, and had a terrific garden in mind for it — but the project was past deadline, over-budget, and filled with problems, and the owners were at wit’s end. So they called in Grace Design Associates to help make things right. It wasn’t easy: no fewer than 10 distinct garden ideas were to be executed in an area surrounded by sea air. The solution was carefully chosen native plants that could tolerate air that is not only salt-heavy, but varies in temperature to the point where it can kill plants that would do fine in other areas. Grace went to work, and within the owners’ parameter of only 90 days, 10 gardens came to pass.
There is a sunken garden (modeled after Sissinghurst in England); a Zen garden (with a Buddha statue, dragon, and temple bell); a white garden (an outdoor gallery with silvery blue foliage); and a theater garden, where productions can actually be staged. Next is a Queen’s garden — inspired by Alice in Wonderland; a pergola, which includes an outdoor kitchen and entertainment spot; a herb garden, consisting of raised beds in a geometric pattern around a central fountain — and, of course, a vegetable garden (with strawberries that cascade down the wall). Finally, there’s a vineyard, complete with Pinot Noir clone 115 vines; and the parterre, modeled after a French palace garden — in a space of only 15 by 30 feet. The best news? The owners are, in Grace’s words, “amazed.”