The art of collecting garden art


REbecca Parker is a pearl. She’s a solitary star collector who sits alone amidst a raw collection of amazing garden objects and plant material on State Street in Carlsbad.

And if you need an unusual pot, mirror, statuary, rare glass jars or even birdcages, you’ll find it here.

But, unfortunately for all of his devoted followers, his eclectic shop closes at the end of August. Now is the time to collect those treasures before they are gone forever.

As the sole owner of Rebecca’s Garden, she’s learned through her decades of collecting found objects that even the strangest objects make great bedfellows. “Recently, I took a big glass jug of water with a tap, added some succulents, green moss and a clay bird,” she said. “No one knew the succulents were fake, but they looked adorable.

“But seriously, most of my designs are made with real plants and found objects. I particularly like to place an object, any object, in an interesting container. It forces the viewer to stop for a second, look and say, “What was that? »

“And the trompe-l’oeil continues as the viewer looks into a tiny glass container filled with plant material, a miniature dinosaur and a little Buddha and feels like Gulliver in ‘Gulliver’s Travels.’ Lots of department stores now sell fairy gardens – well, I’ve been doing them for 20 years.

When asked what her most popular item was, she happily replied, “Blue, blue, blue and white everywhere!” When I went to China in 1976, I found my first real blue and white pottery.

“But I’ve also found it in England as ‘Wedgewood Blue’ and in Talavera’s Mexican designs. True garden collectors will buy anything blue to add to their garden landscaping designs.

There are over 50 blue and white pieces in his garden, but they are going fast.

When the final move to her Oceanside home is complete, Rebecca will teach painting, garden design, fabric painting and tiling.

Contact her at [email protected] or visit her at 3087 State Street where she will be open seven afternoons a week until August 26.


The trick, it seems, to low-cost decorative gardening is to use a small amount of plant material, such as succulents, cacti, perennial cuttings, or vegetables, that can be shown off. by a beautiful piece of pottery or a found object.

According to Tucson, Arizona-based Scott Calhoun in his 2009 book, “Hot Pots,” when planting single specimen plants such as a hibiscus, plumeria, or spurge, it’s important to “remember that the plant is the number one item. You want to select containers that bring out the best features of the plant. When placing pots in your garden, create a group near the entrance, on a narrow walkway or a stairs.

“In contemporary staging, plants are used in a rhythmic and sculptural way to create a sort of living potted work of art. This look is achieved through repeating identical cacti or succulents, such as placing three rows of miniature barrel cacti in a rectangular container.

As illustrated in “Hot Pots,” Scott suggests, “be on the lookout for unusual metal, wood, or ceramic containers and place them near a wall with a mirror, wooden cross, or Mexican Retablo. Your garden will grow and grow over the years with your travels, so don’t try to do it all at once.


Very often when we live in a small space, we yearn for a spacious backyard that we may have had in the past. Without land or a large yard, you have to create “miniature outdoor spaces”.

I had the honor of meeting one of Arizona’s foremost landscape designers while studying at the Desert Botanical Garden Landscape Designer School 10 years ago. As a transplant from upstate New York, I had to learn how to design yards and spaces with very few trees and small patios with lots of pots.

Cesar Mazier is a landscape designer of quiet fame and former director of horticulture at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. I say “quietly famous” because he is not a boastful soul and happily shares many of his trade secrets.

During my interview with him a few years ago, he shared so many of his secrets for designing a garden that looks like a landscaper’s, but is a do-it-yourself project with supplies from the hardware store.


According to Cesar, “Many home gardeners don’t realize they can create an expensive-looking garden with house paint and sturdy terracotta pots from the hardware store. I often buy a handmade Chinese planter , expensive and very high, as big as my budget allows, and I use it as a focal point.

“Now here’s the thing. I buy at least three terracotta pots of different sizes (8″ to 10″) and paint them with matte exterior paint. Buy small, pint-sized varieties of paint in closely related colors on a color wheel. For example, if you’re showcasing a 2-foot high-glaze bright azure Chinese planter, you can purchase house paint in periwinkle blue and deep lavender.

“These matte paints also have endless possibilities if you add matte white to make the terracotta pots lighter or darker, almost like creating your own color wheel. The possibilities are endless once you start with a brush and a can of paint.

“To complete the patio design, I place my hand painted terracotta pots in a circle around the 2ft Azure Chinese Planter, and voila, we have a classic patio design, done by the home gardener .”

Cesar’s website ( has step-by-step videos for designing a complete backyard, including paths, seating, plant material, and water features. Her photo gallery is exquisite, and although photographed in Arizona, many models can be used in Southern California.

Please send us your suggestions and photos, so that we can pass them on to other readers. E-mail [email protected].

Jano Nightingale is a master gardener and horticulturist who teaches at Carlsbad Senior Center and other locations. Contact her at [email protected].


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