Find inspiration with Bernard Trainor to enhance your garden layout

Thinking about our gardens can inspire a flood of ideas, perhaps starting with maintenance priorities, going through occasional inspirations for additional plants, and then stepping back to consider the overall garden design.

In these columns, I have often encouraged a thematic approach to garden design for practical reasons: a theme provides a framework for selecting new plants and appreciating the overall picture the garden presents.

There are higher levels of garden design, pursued with vision, thoughtful thinking and dedication by unique individuals like Bernard Trainor, the eminent landscape designer. He has designed numerous projects in the Monterey Bay area and beyond, with a particular interest in native California plants and the creation of “contextual landscapes” linked to the natural environment of the client’s space. His design company, Ground Studio, is based in Monterey.

This photo shows a garden designed by Bernard Trainor. (Jason Liske – Ground Studio Landscape Architecture)

The Garden Conservancy has planned a special occasion to experience Trainor’s creative work as he encounters the challenges and opportunities of a new landscape project. The occasion, June 19, is one of Garden Conservancy’s Digging Deeper events, titled “Elemental Nature — The California Landscapes of Ground Studio”.

In this inspiring and educational presentation, Trainor will describe several of his exemplary design projects, with an emphasis on his analysis and design process, his plant palettes and his water use strategies for the development of the garden.

Many of the projects designed by Ground Studio involve rural properties with a vast natural environment, including awe-inspiring views. If this describes your home, you might want to discuss your property design work with Bernard Trainor. Attending this presentation would be a good informative first step.

On the other hand, if you have a more typical urban property, this session could still provide insightful and empowering ideas for “creating beautiful places”. Here are some reasons to attend:

  • Discover the work process of this exceptional garden / landscape designer as he draws inspiration from the projects featured in his new monograph, Bernard Trainor: Ground Studio Landscapes.
  • Enjoy the use of native California plants in an eco-friendly garden.
  • Learn the value of a team approach to garden planning and design, involving family and friends, and perhaps a designer, landscape architect, or landscape contractor.
  • Consider the connections between the house, the natural environment and the people in the design of the gardens.
  • Study photographs of successful designs, including vignettes that you could adapt for your own garden.
  • Enjoy the company of other dedicated gardeners.

Bernard Trainor’s presentation will take place at Gardens at Heather Farm in Walnut Creek. It is a free public garden with six acres of natural landscape. This place is worth exploring while attending its presentation on elemental nature.

To collect additional information and register for this event, go to and search for “elementary nature”; or call Garden Conservancy at 1-888-842-2442, or email [email protected] To learn more about Bernard Trainor’s work, visit and

This Digging Deeper event offers an extraordinary opportunity to devote a pleasant day to developing your visions on landscaping and landscaping. If this presentation can relate to your garden planning priorities, register early, as places are limited.

Tom Karwin is President of the Monterey Bay Area Cactus & Succulent Society, Past President of Friends of the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum, and UC Lifetime Master Gardener (Certified 1999-2009). Visit for more information on this topic. Send your comments or questions to [email protected]

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