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Celeb Life Magazine
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Gorgeous Gardens
Unparalleled Outdoor Spaces Designed by Nancy Power
Written by Nicole Benton

Nancy Power, a visionary and creator of stunning gardens, is to landscape design as Frank Gehry is to architecture. Drawn to landscape design following a career as an interior designer, Power has established herself as a master of gardens of all shapes and sizes. Her focus is on the classic California-style gardens, playing up the olive and gold tones of native foliage and creating shady spaces to enjoy the year through in a relaxed and inviting environment.

Drawn to seek the aesthetic in everything and infatuated with the outdoors, Power was influenced by her mother’s and grandmother’s gardens. The two women taught Power about two distinct elements of gardening; her mother cultivated exotic beautiful blooms, while her grandmother tended a huge organic kitchen garden.

Power found further inspiration from seeking out the world’s greatest gardens in countries all over Europe, like England, France and Belgium; in eastern parts of the world, including Sri Lanka and Persia; and in southern parts of the globe, like New Zealand. What are some of the most beautiful, inspirational gardens? Those of southern Spain, the 16th-century Italian villa gardens, and the tropical gardens of Bali, India and Brazil, Power says.

For her new book, Power of Gardens, Power selected 25 of the best gardens she’s created throughout the years. Her gardens are designed to establish a special sort of harmony between the elements within the garden, as well as between the gardens and the indoor spaces they connect to; this method, referred to as “studied casual,” creates a tranquil and organic atmosphere in which the designer’s hand is not apparent.

“Garden design is a living art form,” says Power, who describes herself as a practical romantic. “My goal is to make gardens that are tranquil outdoor places away from the chaotic, noisy, machine-driven environments where most of us work and live.”

The relationship between indoor and outdoor space is the first thing she considers when designing. “If you can’t get to the outside you have to find a way to,” she explains. “That sometimes means adding French doors or opening a wall to have access to a garden.”

A proponent of sustainable practices both indoors and out, Power uses native plants appropriate for their settings, like drought-tolerant trees and plants suited for California’s dry, mild climate. Her gardens also feature plants from organic seeds, heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables, and organic methods of fertilizing and pest control. In addition, she implements features that capture rainwater, like cisterns and French drains to redistribute water.

Some of her favorite plants to work with are California oaks, sycamores and palm trees. “I love trees best,” Power tells. At the back of her book are two pages dedicated to her many favorite trees, shrubs, succulents, vines and aquatic plants. Following her long list of favorites is a valuable resource guide for some of the country’s best garden shops, nurseries and materials providers.

After 25 years of designing gardens and parks, Power says there are still tons of things she hasn’t done yet in garden design. “I would like to make more spaces for children, educational venues and more parks for people,” Power says.

Her passion to create outdoor spaces for children to experience led her to establish the Garden School Foundation at 24th Street Elementary School in South Los Angeles, a kitchen garden that supports 1,000 students who grow food from seed to table.

“Very early in my life I decided that I wanted to make the world around me more beautiful,” Power divulges in the introduction of her book. Inarguably, she has accomplished her aspirations in this regard, bestowing upon people beautiful open gardens that invoke sheer joy and affinity for nature.

(FEATURED PHOTO Iris “Grandma’s Purple Flag” at the highly-regarded Moraga Vineyard in the Santa Monica Mountains, inspired by Claude Monet’s Giverny garden in France. The iris is a midsize re-blooming California favorite. Photography: Tim Street-Porter)

 

Nancy Power’s Power of Gardens is the must-have collection of her best works, featuring her 25 best gardens, with a foreword provided by renowned interior designer Bunny Williams. Available October 2009 from Stewart, Tabori & Chang.
FEATURED PHOTO Iris “Grandma’s Purple Flag” at the highly-regarded Moraga Vineyard in the Santa Monica Mountains, inspired by Claude Monet’s Giverny garden in France. The iris is a midsize re-blooming California favorite. Photography: Tim Street-Porter

NESTLED IN THE SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS, this area of the Moraga Vineyard features clipped rosemary buttressing a stone swimming pool, plump hassocks of gray germander lining a decomposed gravel path, and aromatic shrubs lining the stairway. (Photography by Nancy Goslee Power & Associates Staff)

WATER GENTLY BUBBLES UP up from a carved stone centered within a pebble mosaic circle in the home garden of Anne and Houston Harte in Montecito, California. (Photography by Tim Street-Porter)
THIS 18th-CENTURY FRENCH OLIVE JAR, which parallels the agave fountain behind it, is part of the Live Oak Gardens, a coastal Central California estate influenced by older gardens of California and Europe. (Photography by Victoria Pearson)
A WATER STAIRCASE lined with potted Agave attenuata crosses the citrus orchard within the Live Oak Gardens. (Photography by Victoria Pearson)
NATIVE OAKS, COMPLEMENTED BY CALIFORNIA LILAC, provide shade along the winding hillside path within the Moraga Vineyard gardens. (Photography by Tim Street-Porter)
 

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