When Becki Carney and I got around to chatting about the garden and I asked her how old the garden was, I fully expected her to say, “Oh, about ten years old.” I was startled to find out that the garden was only two years old and had been a vacant lot before.
This is a mature looking garden with trees and bamboo to the top of the walls and beyond. Happy plants in a range of greens fill the beds (Agapanthus sp. being one); creeping fig (Ficus pumila) exuberantly climbs the long back wall; flowers bloom here and there—bougainvillea, geraniums, lavender—adding just the right punctuation of color.
What is Becki’s secret?
From the minute I walked into her house/garden, I was taken with the integration of the house and garden, so I think of it as a house/garden. Prior to building in Malanquin, Becki lived in a multi-level house in Ojo de Aqua with limited garden space. She had been looking for a lot on which to build an all-in-one-level house with room for a garden. She didn’t hesitate when she saw this level lot for sale.
She sketched out the basic idea for the house/garden with emphasis on the connection of each room to a part of the garden. The result is an open plan between house rooms and garden rooms. Linda chose to paint the small garden room off the kitchen, which includes Mexican orchid or goatsfoot trees (Bauhinia mexicana) and a kumquat. Some houses have breakfast nooks where this house has its kitchen garden room. What a way to start the day with a steaming cup of coffee in hand and this view to look at or to step into.
I chose for my painting view to look back at the entrance to the house where, when you enter, you can step into the house or into a living room-sized garden. I couldn’t resist adding Gracie Blossom, the cat, and the two much loved Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Diego and Callie, lounging in their outdoor living room. And the spectacularly healthy Plectranthus ‘Mona Lavender’ in the two pots welcoming visitors was just crying to be painted.
Another garden room has as its focus a large sun shaped garden sculpture designed by Toller Cranston which had been in Toller’s yard. Here and there are other garden sculptures, wind chimes, and found treasures. Most of these inviting garden rooms are furnished with comfortable furniture for entertaining or reading. Clearly, they are designed to be used.
Becki gratefully acknowledges the contributions of her landscape designer, Rob Johnson, and gardener, Rafael “Raffie” Lopez for the look and function of her garden. Besides allotting a generous budget for the design and the plantings, she attributes the healthy, vibrant look of her garden to the truckloads of “good” garden dirt that were hauled to the site.
Part of Becki’s secret is having the garden portioned into several room-sized spaces. Thus the small to medium sized trees give a mature look to the garden that much larger trees do to expansive gardens.
We spent a peaceful, sunny morning each painting in a different garden room and wish to thank Becki for her kind invitation to enjoy her house/garden.
GREENS…Sap Green is a popular green among watercolorist and Linda and I are no exception both having Sap Green on our palettes. Originally made from unripe Buckthorn berries, manufacturers now combine two or three synthetic pigments to make this mid-range green with yellow undertones.