Feelings Are Like Rain Drops

Feelings are like rain drops. In the old days, the rain would fall, and it would percolate into the very place it landed. In big storm events, when the place it landed was too full to handle any more on its own, then the water would just flow, with gravity, taking the path of least resistance. Then it would meet up with other extra water that also couldn’t sit still in its original landing spot. This rain would all band together and meander through swales and channels, babble thru creeks and valleys, and rage through waterfalls and rivers before settling at its lowest point. The lowest point could be very different for each rain drop. They may end up in an ephemeral wetland, a pond, a lake, or even the great blue ocean. But in every unique situation, once they’ve arrived at this “low point,” they are greeted by a host of diverse and supportive organisms which help to maintain their clarity. Eventually their cycle is completed when they are evaporated back into a rain cloud and ready to nurture another day.

Today, there is stormwater management— with concrete channels, curbs, gutters, detention, and retention basins. Our rain drops are being isolated, “treated,” and fenced off. Now we suffer the consequences.

February 18th, 2018 | Comments Off on Feelings Are Like Rain Drops

What’s Your “Why?”

My personal mission is to make the world more beautiful inside and out.

I’m a landscape architect, so what does this mean? By “out,” I do mean the exterior spaces that support both private and public opportunities for refuge or community-building. By “inside,” I mean tackling the biases and fear which continue to threaten our collective humanity. By “inside,” I mean to utilize our outside experiences to build hope, respect and community in all people.

January 12th, 2018 | Comments Off on What’s Your “Why?”

The Quart Lunar Does Shiny and Real

The Quart Lunar showcased in the Escofet catalogue, then spotted later in a skate magazine where it showcases the markings of a true community amenity.quart lunar

November 6th, 2017 | Comments Off on The Quart Lunar Does Shiny and Real

Racism or A Culture of Violence?

15027648_10154349399058884_8124794174666517763_nI need to know if racism killed my sister. Long before the party on November 17, 2001. Long before the stab wound to her heart. Did her physical appearance influence the way she was treated, shape the person she became, and result in her death?

Or was it the prescription pill abuse that ended up taking the life of her killer? Can we blame someone who is under the influence? Or was it a culture of violence? Which is what my family publicly identified as the cause when we found out a large group of her peers were chanting, “fight, fight, fight!” on that fateful night fifteen years ago, today.

These questions have plagued me silently for years. But now America is ready to confront it. And it all needs to be confronted. Whether it’s caused by one of these epidemics, or all, I want to believe that they can all be treated with love, with respect, with community. But I want to know the full story. I can’t treat the symptoms without knowing the cause.

November 17th, 2016 | Comments Off on Racism or A Culture of Violence?

Modern Family

Had a blast working on this mid-century home for a young family on the Central Coast. With a toddler and infant in tow, play space was at a premium for this 1,200 sq. ft. house. At the same time, we would all prefer our houses didn’t have to look like a play space 24/7. To solve this, many spaces take on multiple uses:

Sandbox by day:

Fire Pit Lounge by night:

Other play activities in disguise included a race track front yard, “walk the plank” and tunnel / seat wall, and an adventure meadow complete with boulders to jump from and climb on.
I actually owe the tunnel detail to my three-year old son. We enjoyed a fun morning together, with him on my lap, and helping me style the SketchUp model with the appropriate sand toys, tricycles and play opportunities. Best design collaborator ever!
Check it out, the “Walk the Plank” Seat Wall looks way better (and more fun) with a tunnel through it:

 And no race track is complete without a race car!

Major, existing concrete decks were left in place and amended with modern detailing. Wood decking was selected as an easy DIY solution to improve the usability and character of this landscape. At the end of the day,this landscape will make a great place for everything from play time to large parties for entertaining.


May 8th, 2014 | Comments Off on Modern Family

Native Gardens Done Right

Nestled between the fairytale land of Solvang and the warm, golden hillsides of Santa Ynez, the Chumash Casino and Tribal Hall grounds are a delightful surprise. Instead of perfectly trimmed, evergreen hedges and monotonous landscaping that is typically found in commercial developments,  the landscaped areas here, are heartwarming with their predominantly native plant palette.  It was only natural that the Chumash people celebrate the cultural attributes of the native flora.

Flanked by creeks on both sides, Heteromeles arbutofolia (Toyon) and Lyonothamnus floribundus ssp aspleniifolius (Catalina Ironwood) are the main caretakers for the steep slopes. Cercis canadensis (Western redbud) and multiple varieties of Arctostaphylos (Manzanita) provide textural accents and seasonal interest.

While the distant hillsides carry the golden tones of summer, the Casino and Tribal Hall grounds will surprise you with the beat of bursting perennial color and an intriguing variety of height and texture. Eriogonum, Zauschneria and countless Salvias are alive with luscious flowers and the company of hummingbirds. These landscaped grounds are a wonderful representation of native plants and beauty in the garden.

If you can’t make a personal visit, you can find out more about a Native American people’s dynamic relationship with the natural world, by reading “Chumash Ethnobotany: Plant Knowledge Among the Chumash People of Southern California” by Jan Timbrook.


June 25th, 2013 | Comments Off on Native Gardens Done Right

Confessions of a Landscape Architect

I’m a terrible gardener. Only the toughest plants survive under my care. (I swear this usually serves as a selling point for my clients, because I can identify the most bulletproof of plants for their garden.)

Contrary to popular opinion, landscape architects are not trained in gardening. Apart from design and engineering classes, my plant-specific education was limited to botany, soil science, a few plant identification classes and one class that I do actually reference on a daily basis; California Native Plants with Dave Fross. So, after years of drafting, computer screens, reviewing industry-standard specifications, and basically just lines and words on paper, I’ve decided that its time to take a more active role in the garden.

While browsing the garden center at the Morro Bay Miner’s I noticed a dusty collection of “Central Coast Gardening Essentials” books by Joe Seals.  At first glance, the use of papyrus font on the cover and the lack of glossy plant photos in the body turned me off.  But then I flipped through the “Top Myths and Bad Practices of Gardening” section… I was sold at “DON’T put kitchen waste in the compost pile,” (put them in a worm box instead!)

Seals had me hooked immediately with his accessible, common-sense approach to gardening. Not only does he break down 10-weeks of soil science instruction into a few pages of clear, to-the-point, useful tips, but he continues to address all the factors affecting plant health, including water, wind, light, temperature and more, into simple, quick-to-grasp guides. When plants are failing in the landscape, it is important to address all factors. Matching the right Sunset zone or picking whatever is in your local nursery, does not equal success. The best part about Seals’ handbook is its focus on the Central Coast climate specifically. While key parts of the book can be applied  to gardens nationwide, there’s nothing more helpful than a comprehensive, on-the-ground knowledge of our specific region.

I had grand plans this weekend, to clear out my dilapidated garden and get started on some fresh plantings, but now I’m holding off until I finish this book! I’m half way through and want to make sure I read the chapter on “Weed Management”  first, because do you “ever wonder why people who pull weeds are always pulling weeds?”

Seals will also break down popular conceptions of soil amendments, landscape fabric (causes more weeds), and drip irrigation (does not help build drought-tolerant plants)! I’ve enjoyed finding validation for some of my personal opinions and greatly appreciate his straightforward and intuitive approach to successful gardening on the Central Coast.

If you disagree or have differing experiences from what Seals prescribes, I would love to hear your comments below.


August 26th, 2012 | Comments Off on Confessions of a Landscape Architect

Walk the Line

This is what a landscape architect does in order to keep her kid entertained on the beach. Bonus points for developmental skills training and temporary land art!

May 13th, 2012 | Comments Off on Walk the Line

5 for 1

Hire a landscape architect and you get five gardens for the price of one! For every design, considerations are made for when the garden is installed, at 2 years, 5 years, 10 years and 20+ years of age.

May 3rd, 2012 | Comments Off on 5 for 1

Building Community

For the past four years, I’ve dedicated a good portion of my spare time to the communications committee of C4, the local chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. For the past four years, I’ve apologized for being “just a landscape architect” as I tackled the tasks of graphic design, web design and social media. What I’ve only now realized is that all these tasks are a natural fit for a landscape architect. The skills I have been trained for and find the most crucial to my job description, are those tasks which contribute towards building community.

As a landscape architect, my greatest passion is for creating communities and environments where people can connect and thrive. As the digital world becomes further integrated with our daily, hourly and constant routines, I can only imagine the digital landscape becoming another tool or platform for landscape architects. My definition of landscape architecture is not limited to plants, soil and hardscape. My definition of landscape architecture includes passion, community and people.

August 26th, 2011 | Comments Off on Building Community