Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Herb Gardening!

When designing herb gardens I start by making a sun/shade study of the site to determine the best location for my plot. There is usually a need for some type of dividing element or screen, so pineapple and strawberry guava provide a nice natural element for the purpose, as well as giving back to us in the form of the their delicious fruit.

Once my beds are laid out to my satisfaction, I start with the basic herbs that any chef would need; Italian parsley, sweet basil, rosemary, oregano and thyme. Mint is also a basic but should be kept in a pot as it can become invasive.

Some of the more unusual choices I like to incorporate are: tasoi, black kale, winter savory and sorrel. Tatsoi is used as a micro green and is a member of the cabbage family. Black kale has a smooth rich texture and is a nice alternative to green kale. Black kale makes a tasty salad using lemon and olive oil.
Founded in 1992, Environmental Concept provides landscape design and installation services to the finest residential and commercial properties in Southern California. We are known for our specialty gardening and work closely with our clients to create personalized outdoor environments that are beautiful, functional and sustainable.

 All images copyright 2012 Sarah Barnard.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Santa Monica Mediterranean: Luxury Gardens in Small Space


 Tucked away in sea-side Santa Monica, California is a lovely custom Mediterranean home on a moderately sized residential lot. When the homeowner’s chose Alison Ross to design the landscape it was only natural for her to bring her longtime friend and colleague, Tania Gybels of Environmental Concept on to the project. The team of professionals ultimately created a garden with endless opportunities to enjoy the pleasant weather and endless benefits of Southern California’s outdoor lifestyle. By thoughtfully dividing up the available spaces the garden’s design encourages the residents to find enjoyment in uniquely functional spaces like the patio, outdoor kitchen and fireplace.


By using only the finest quality materials, this is a small scale garden where luxury abounds. All of the pathways, seat walls, fountain borders and outdoor fireplace are made of hand-cut Pennsylvania bluestone. With an extra special attention to detail and quality craftsmanship, Environmental Concept’s masons brought Ross’s vision to life.


When asked about the things that make the garden unique, Gybels explains how the design concept and quality gardening practices go hand-in-hand. “Because the garden is centered on specific forms created by the controlled shapes of the hedges and topiaries it is imperative that the horticultural maintenance be incredibly detailed to maintain the intended forms”. One of the primary elements that contribute to this concept is the boxwood hedge, Buxus (Green Beauty) which is a repeating element throughout.

 Other plant choices of note are the flowering vine over the garage, Rosa (Cecil Brunner) and the Bay trees (Laurus Nobilis) that impart a Tuscan feeling around the fountain.

 By planning the garden as functional interconnected zones and employing the finest craftspeople using only the best materials was a surefire recipe for an exemplary landscape installation.



Founded in 1992, Environmental Concept provides landscape design and installation services to the finest residential and commercial properties in Southern California. Environmental Concept has completed projects for the Spelling Mansion, Dustin Hoffman, Roland Emmerich, 3.1 Philip Lim Boutique, the Ambrose Hotel, Sunset Millennium Shopping Center, Hotel Casa del Mar and the Aquarium of the Pacific. Environmental Concept has been featured on HGTV and Oprah. For more information about Environmental Concept visit www.envconcept.com