Exciting News! Multiple Awards for 2018 – Including the Coveted Landscape Designer of the Year!

I’m usually not one to toot my own horn… but just had to share the latest news!

The International Association of Professional Landscape Designers (ALPD) has named moi, Margie Grace, 2018 Designer of the Year – the highest honor in our industry.

It was actually a bumper crop of APLD awards this year… All told, Grace Design Associates projects won three Gold Awards – one for the Sea Cliff project, one for The River at Tanayan and one for our very own Sycamore Canyon Road residence – plus a Silver Award for our project at Padaro Lane.

To celebrate, I thought I’d highlight each of the award-winning gardens, starting with the big winner — the Sycamore Canyon project.

It is a special honor and privilege to win Designer of the Year and a Gold Award for the Sycamore Canyon gardens because it’s more than just a project to us: it is also our  home. With only ourselves to please, I had the opportunity to explore and experiment a little. Why not go for it? I wanted to perfect what we call The Art of Outdoor Living – the ultimate Santa Barbara lifestyle. We envisioned a seamless connection between indoors and out and tripling our living space with lots of of outdoor “rooms” – places to enjoy any time of day, any time of year.

The property is located directly across from the iconic pink wall of Lotusland, the world-renowned garden extraordinaire. The place hadn’t seen a lot of love for decades, but it had fabulous mature trees and plenty of space. (Image above from before we installed the new gardens.)

Ganna Walska

Madame Ganna Walska – Lotusland’s creator – is one of my heroes…

and Lotusland is one of the BEST PLACES on planet Earth…

Inspired by the gardens of Lotusland, with themed gardens throughout, we  fondly – with tongue firmly tucked in cheek – refer to our humble abode as Lotusland South.

Check out the transformation!

The Money Shot – my favorite! Golden afternoon light filters through drifts of grasses and the sheltering branches of a grand old Oak in the backyard.

Backyard Before. The backyard was worn out and, well, just plain sad.

Backyard After. From blight to beauty!

Four new outdoor rooms allow for year-round outdoor living in the backyard. Next to the house are the outdoor Dining Room with its huge farm table (in the foreground), the shade-dappled outdoor Living Room (mid-ground), the Fire Pit Lounge (in the background) and out near the pond, in the upper left corner of the image, the Sycamore Pergola, with its massive stone table and overhead strings of lights.

The Living Room and Fire Pit Lounge. Afternoons are devine… tapas and wine (or cigars and bourbon if its one of those days) around the massive teak coffee table to wind down… followed by conversation around the fire pit on plush outdoor couches.

There’s nothing better than kicking back around a fire when the sun is setting in Santa Barbara.

Doors and windows fold away, opening the house to the outdoor rooms and the expansive park-like space.

The Sycamore Pergola. Living trees form the pergola “structure” – inexpensive and no building permit required! The new pond provides the soothing sound of water and draws an eye-popping variety of birds, frogs and insects.

Secret Garden. Hidden behind an ancient Chinese gate, a secret garden provides privacy and a tranquil backdrop for the master bath. (Our very own Asian-ish garden – a tip of the hat to Lotusland’s breath-taking Japanese garden.)

CalArc narrow modular pavers are used throughout the gardens as patios and stepping stone pathways.

Pebble mosaic in the massive Sydney Peak stone landing outside of the dining room. (I LOVE doing details that surprise and delight!)

Slender Veldt Grass (Pennisetum spathiolatum) and Autumn Moor Grass (Seslaria autumnalis) catch the light throughout the backyard.

A beautiful detail… for people and for critters! (A rotting log provides habitat for bugs,  lizards and salamanders.)

Front Yard Before. The front yard was dominated by a lengthy circular driveway, masses of overgrown junipers and assorted moth eaten plants.

Front Yard After – the Motor Court. Cars were banished from the front yard. Vehicle circulation is restricted to a new gravel Motor Court embraced by sculptural succulents and cacti, a la Lotusland.

Front Yard After – the Terraced Garden. The asphalt is outta here. Gentle terracing and landscape mounds provide a depth of fresh, living topsoil where a floriferous drought-tolerant cottage garden now thrives.

Lotusland South would not be Lotusland South without a few grotesque or two. (I promise we didn’t sneak into Lotusland’s Theater Garden in the dark of night to steal these statues! Lotusland commissioned 100 each of these half-scale reproductions.) Click here to support Lotusland and bring home your very own grotesque.

New front porch… cheerful and inviting.

View from inside the front yard looking towards the Motor Court. The Terraced Garden is to the left. The front porch is to the right. The Purple Rain Garden and the Bromeliad Garden are  along the path behind the viewer.

The Purple Rain Garden. (We hope Prince is looking down with approval.) Mirror garlands dangle from aubergine Gracie Modern Arbors (no relation), sending reflected light dancing around the garden. Lush – yet unthirsty – plantings include Berkeley Sedge (Carex divulsa) and Velvet Agave (Agave attenuata).

The Bromeliad Garden finds its happy place in the filtered sunlight of several shapely oaks at the end of the walk that parallels the front of the house. Most of these beauties are from Lotusland’s recent Rare Plant Auction.

Above: Madame Ganna Walska

Our thanks go out to the Association of Professional Landscape Designers for the recognition as 2018 Landscape Designer of the Year. It’s a joy to share my home with peers and have it well-received. I like to think Madame Ganna Walska would be proud!



Sneak peak at our next blog post…

Sea Cliff Project takes home the Gold…

The Art of Outdoor Living taken to a new level – literally and figuratively! Where else but in Santa Barbara?


3 thoughts on “Exciting News! Multiple Awards for 2018 – Including the Coveted Landscape Designer of the Year!

  1. Beautiful!! I love the sycamore pergola and had thought of doing something similar for exactly your reasons. However, I thought it would grow too large. Did you use a smaller variety I’m not aware of or will you prune them in a particular way to manage?

    1. Thank you Tina! They are standard California sycamores but we are letting them fill in eventually to create a natural pergola and enclosure. We will of course be doing light pruning as they mature to keep organized and healthy.

  2. Hi Tina. Thanks for the kudos! The sycamores are plain ole species type (Platanus racemosa). I’ll shape them as they grow — not sure yet how tall I’ll let them go.

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