Edgehill Mansion

In the fall of 2012 I was offered the opportunity to re-design the planting plan and general landscape directly around Edgehill Mansion at Dominican University in San Rafael, CA.  The previous installation had a planting palette that couldn’t withstand the deer population. It never was able to develop into a full and vibrant landscape suitable to a Queen Anne Victorian.

It was an absolute joy working to work on this project. The major challenges of this design were to develop a plant palette that looks beautiful year round, withstands browsing deer and doesn’t use too much water. Michael (Associate Facilities Director – see below) made it clear that many plants on the “deer resistant lists” aren’t so deer resistant at this site.

 We broke up the large planting area on the west side of Edgehill Mansion with a gently curving flagstone path, stone seating benches and statuary appropriate to Dominican’s vision. The area created by the central curve will host a lovely statue of Mary that Michael  had in storage and hoped to use. We also added two lovely but modest water features, a dry creek bed and a stone retaining wall to the design in the southeast corner near the main entrance.

 As I write this (late December 2012) the installation has just begun. Michael’s crew has started installation of the stone wall and the dry creek bed. They have also installed a few of the larger shrubs and a tree in the southeast corner. I’ll continue to add photos as the project develops.

***  Below is a testimonial by Michael Henkes – Associate Director Facility Services at Dominican University of California***

I am responsible for the grounds at Dominican University of California, in San Rafael. I was looking for a designer to help give a new design to a failed landscape. The area is around a Victorian house built in late 1800’s. The house was recently remodeled and professionally landscaped. I was “consulted” but was not listened to. Almost everything in the garden was eaten by the local deer. After two years I was asked to redo the landscape. I wanted to bring in someone with fresh eyes to see the area and to bring in a fresh vision. I have been working the landscape at Dominican for the past 20 years. I wanted this landscape to stand out from the rest of campus, yet at the same time to complement the surrounding area.

I found Karen when she was giving a presentation on Permaculture Gardening. I liked her process and her person. We started with a consultation, a walk through the grounds of the university and a walk around the house.

Karen heard my ideas and expanded on them. She heard my concerns and we never approached near them again. The process was amazing. When Karen submitted the plant list, I was amazed that I could not find a single plant to take off. Working with Karen got my own creativity moving again. When I suggested a change, she accepted them with a very positive and professional attitude, or she explained why she would rather keep to the original plan. Karen made me feel like we were a team. We worked collaboratively on all aspects of the design. She understood my budget restraints and gave me a product that now I am currently in the process of installing. Karen fulfilled the goals I set out and I am very excited for the community to see this new garden envisioned by an artist, a gardener, a new friend.

I look forward to collaborating with Karen in the future as I continue to rework the beautiful grounds at Dominican.

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