A Cool Garden on a Hot Day

So I found another couple of gardens from the Garden Bloggers Fling in San Francisco that I never did write about. One was the Palo Alto garden of Andrea and Andy Testa-Vought, designed by Bernard Trainor. Though very different from the kind of Midwest gardens I am used to, I admired how this garden created an outdoor living space for people with creative hardscape and a collection of plants native to California and other Mediterranean climates. Though please don’t ask me their names.

We thank you, and our feet thank you.
We thank you, and our feet thank you.

OK, let me by honest – what I (and I expect many others) appreciated most was the opportunity to take off our shoes and put our hot, suffering feet into the water. We arrived there at the end of a long day of visiting gardens in record heat and under a strong summer sun.

California living. Nice, huh?
California living. Nice, huh?


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But even without this blessed relief, there was no denying that this was a beautiful garden.

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I’m still not a huge fan of succulents, but they obviously are a good fit here, and in this setting I can see the appeal.

testa vought pot and smokebush

Not everything was  a succulent. I liked this Cotinus and the grasses.

testa vought lemon tree

It’s California, so there was citrus.

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There were many spots, some in the open and others hidden away, for sitting and appreciating the outdoors.

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There was a gorgeous tree with blue flowers that reminded me of lilac or butterfly bush. Anybody know what this is?

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If you want to know more about this garden, here’s an article from Pacific Horticulture magazine.

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I should mention that the owners were extremely hospitable (thank God for the water and other cold drinks) and very engaging. Their cat, on the other hand, didn’t seem too excited to see us.


32 Comments on “A Cool Garden on a Hot Day”

  1. Haha…oh man…I think I felt a trickle of sweat go down my back just reading this again…yikes, it was blazing that day…luckily the owners were so very sweet, as you mentioned. I wanted to hug them for providing refreshments! I agree about the garden…it’s undeniably lovely and stylish…but really my cup of tea. I think your mystery blue plant is Vitex…a.k.a. Chaste Tree.

  2. I agree with Julie; this post is a wonderful antidote to the fog and mud of this morning. I used to share your distaste for succulents but I have changed my tune: There are so many fantastic textures and sculptural shapes that can be employed using these plants. In the right setting, they are perfection. I love how, in one of the photos above, a succulent (Aeonium?) is peeking around the masonry wall.

  3. It certainly was hot and bright that day, but I really liked this garden and thought it was very liveable — various “rooms” and activity areas, all opening up from the house in a natural, organic way. And yes, the owners were very hospitable.

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