Montecito Landscape Garden Design – The Cullen Meadow
Lisa and Chris Cullen of Montecito Landscape are long time customers of Eye of the Day. We feature one of their recent designs as they transform a large lawn to a walking garden with a central water feature using a custom Eye of the Day fountain conversion.
Tell us a little about Montecito Landscape and this project.
Montecito Landscape is celebrating 47 years of creating gardens in Montecito and beyond this month! We are a small, boutique company specializing in landscape design and installation. This particular project is one of our favorites. The client was very involved in the development of the design and she trusted us when we presented an out-of-the ordinary idea.
What was your client’s goal for this garden?
The area was a huge, dead lawn and with the drought and water restrictions it was going to be difficult if they wanted to keep it looking good. They wanted something drought tolerant but beautiful and interesting. Initially, the client wanted lawn, but we wanted to do something completely different from the norm. They trusted our vision and agreed to go along.
What was your initial vision for the landscape?
We wanted to eliminate the lawn all together and create a “walking garden” providing destinations that would invite meandering and discovering. We also wanted to take advantage of the outer perimeter of the property by removing the Pittosporum hedges that were cutting off what became “the forest” from the rest of the property. We created pathways and destinations in this area that connected to the main garden, so that one could enjoy it from every vantage point.
Our innovation was “The Cullen Meadow” which is a drought tolerant alternative to lawn. The “meadow” consists of drought tolerant, flowering plants such as Santa Barbara daisy, Nepeta, Carex and others that can be walked on and mowed like a lawn, but that needs only occasional maintenance. Plus, it is way more interesting than a lawn!
The idea for the central pond came from the client when she sent us a photo of one she saw in England. The minute we saw it, we knew this was exactly what this garden needed. We also needed a fountain to mitigate the noise from the street and the pond created the perfect way of integrating a water feature into the design.
Were there any unique problems that came up during the design or installation?
Working out how to make the “Cullen Meadow” something that could be used as a lawn and how to lessen the street sounds and visual distraction of cars going by without blocking the distant views.
What would you describe as your garden design aesthetic and how do you work with your client’s own vision for the landscape?
We work with Nature not against her. We design gardens that are cohesive from conception to the finished product. A garden should flow, it should “feel right”. They should have a theme, a vibe and a sense of place. Our designs take the entire property into account, taking advantage of the unique qualities and features of that specific property. We begin by looking at what makes the space special, what are the assets and work out how we can use those features to their best advantage. We also believe that drought tolerant gardens can be beautiful. They can have roses, camellias and even hydrangeas if planted in the appropriate location and using correct gardening technique.
We love to collaborate with the client. We spend time with them, driving around if needed, pointing out various gardens so that we can tune into their specific aesthetic and discover exactly how they envision using the garden. We want our clients to get out and be in their gardens so we design for the individual. Gardens are for living and we know we have been successful when we hear how much our clients love their new landscapes.
For the garden décor, why these pieces?
The fountain needed to be simple and the correct scale if it was to work in the pond. The pond is 15 feet across and is the main feature of the landscape design, so the fountain needed to be perfect. Brent Freitas at Eye of the Day helped us in selecting the exact right fountain and we (and the client) are very happy with the result.
What was your favorite part of this project and design?
The central pond, fountain and the “meadow” are what make this garden so special. We knew the house and the location deserved something special and I think we succeeded. I love water features, ponds, and fountains and believe that every garden needs one or two for the visual and musical sound aesthetic. Fountains and water features can be “tuned” to fit the type of effect you are trying to create. And fountains are not just for aesthetic reasons! A fountain brings birds and bees to a garden and we all know how important the birds and the bees are!
Visit Montecito Landscape to view more of their work.