What happens when a plant biologist and a landscape artist team up to create a garden on a California hillside? Surprising plant combinations at every turn
Luckily, for this project he got to work with someone equally passionate. Carol Giannandrea, the property’s owner (with her husband, John), is a plant biologist with a weakness for cactus, succulents, and citrus. She hired Baumann four years ago to convert her country-style garden in Los Gatos, California, into a more modern landscape.
“I didn’t start with an overall design,” Baumann says, “but focused on one area at a time, so Carol could get to know my work.” Before long, the two were bouncing ideas off each other, Baumann scribbling his on paper napkins out in the garden. The result is a plant playground full of unexpected foliage and flower blends, garden art—and a little magic.
In the pool area, black mondo grass reaches out, spiderlike, from the base of a horsetail “fence.” Downslope from the house is a series of terraced gardens, each framed with embossed steel “wave walls.” “My crazy ideas come from everywhere—jewelry, plants, fashion,” Baumann says.
He even makes a nod to Giannandrea’s native Scotland: Along a roadside bank, a dry-stacked stone wall juts like a rocky coast into a sea of echeverias. It’s Baumann’s gift to the owners—and to anyone driving down the country road.