When you visit Eye of the Day Garden Design Center in Carpinteria, you’ll see a lot of things: authentic European and American terra cotta, statuary, fountains, a gift shop full of wonderful books and more. You’ll also see succulent planters designed by Mimi Richardson, whose eye for color, texture and scale has resulted in our collection of one-of-a-kind pieces that are ready to take home.
I sat down and talked with Mimi to find out more about her creative inspiration.
Q: How did your background growing up around horticulture influence the way you think about and design with plants today?
A: I grew up living on Seaside Banana Farm with my parents and three sisters. Playing in the dirt was more than just a saying for me. My dad raised fifty varieties of organic bananas plus other subtropical plants and fruits like passion fruit, mango and papaya, plus there was always a multitude of plants around that were being studied and tested. My inspiration for design came later, when I worked at Pan’s Garden in Summerland, CA, and then Island View Nursery in Carpinteria.
Q: Regarding the containers you plant up for Eye of the Day, what makes you lean toward succulents?
A: While I try to be just as artistic with other plant materials, it is succulents I most prefer to work with. As to containers, succulents give immediate instant gratification and they maintain themselves from the get go and anyone can take care of them. There are forms, textures and colors to satisfy everyone and their proclivities.
Q:. Can you comment on how color, texture and size of plants figure into the way you design the containers?
A: I don’t have a design layout for containers or specific forms. Like Jackson Pollack, I let the plants speak to me and for me and go with their flow and as they populate the container. As I work, I make adjustments, sometime even tearing them out and replacing them until I’m satisfied with the feel and look. Obviously, colors and textures play into it, but not until they are in my hands.
Q: Can you comment on the containers themselves: what you like about them, which one do you prefer, and why?
A: The contemporary form excites me as much as the elegant and high-colored French Anduze. We planted up a number of old French Cavalry stone troughs awhile back and although it was a challenge and they turned out beyond my wildest imagination. Each container allows me to escape into a new adventure.
Q: In terms of customers caring for these planters once they buy them, what do you suggest?
A: We plant them in correct soil and from there they just need to be groomed for old or dead foliage and watered sparingly (and don’t forget an occasional loving chat).