Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Three Musketeers

As a business owner and busy mom of two little ones, I have needed to be creative with my childcare. Alison, our friend and neighbor, Sami, and I have worked out a childcare solution which we've affectionately referred to as "The Three Musketeers." Essentially we each have three 3 year olds (and Sami and I also have our 3 month olds) one day per week. This gives each of the mamas two days of work. Well, today was my day with the kids, so little work is done; but we managed to remain creative. We made ink blots with kid-safe paint, and the finished paintings turned out quite beautiful for 3 year olds. The whole Rorschachian interpretation of the paintings are fun, too-- the kids saw lot's of butterflies, bugs, and mountains.

Tomorrow we're in the field planting annuals and touching up pots. And in the early morning we'll be adjusting a design to accommodate an angled fence. This project is under construction, and we're quite excited about it. There are a lot of details in this small space though, so I expect we'll need to make a few adjustments in the field. I can't wait to see the completed garden. The owners are a fantastic family with a great sense of style, and we had a lot of fun working on the design.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Field Trip to San Francisco

Ah, quiet time... I've managed to get both kids to nap at the same time, and I'm quickly trying to do anything that requires a bit of concentration while they sleep. Two children has been a major adjustment for me, but I recently learned of a woman who had five at once! Her name is Adwai Malual, and she has an interesting story. You can learn more about her story at
Alison and I managed to sneak up to San Francisco last week, and visited Living Green in the San Francisco design center for the first time. What a beautiful and serene space! But I was so disappointed that I could not take anything home for any clients' (or my own) garden as the prices were much higher than I've found elsewhere. Their presentation is beautiful, and there were many unique pieces, but I wouldn't try to justify the price tag to any of my clients.
Because we were disappointed that we didn't have anything to bring home from Living Green, we decided to stop by Flora Grubb on the way home. Here we found plenty we could take home, and recommend for clients' gardens. Apparently many others did, too. While Living Green was serene and peaceful, I later realized it was so because it was void of customers. Flora Grubb, on the other hand, was busy with anxious customers, and the beautiful open space was filled with fun, playful tunes. Economists say today many customers are looking to buy an experience, and Flora Grubb has created quite a desirable experience. We'll definitely be back soon!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Oh Happy Day!

Happy Inauguration Day, Everyone! Although I did not start this blog as a political pulpit, I am happy to say that I have been a long-time supporter of Barack Obama, and I am so proud and honored to witness this day of his presidential inauguration. For those supporters of Obama who share my feelings, the sun is shining upon our celebrations as we emerge from years of disappointment and darkness; and for those who did not support Obama, I hope that you will in time find a cautious optimism in the words and deeds of our 44th president as we all carve out a better future for all of the people of the world.

In this season of rebirth for the country, I thought it an apt time to create this forum. My grandfather (a great hero of mine) faithfully kept a daily journal, and I was always inspired by this ritual of commitment to put words to page among the many other tasks this farmer and businessman had as a part of his daily routine. This set a precedence for my love of words. My grandfather also inspired my love for the land. And on our 1500 acre ranch, I set down the roots which continue to hold me tightly to the land and drive Botany’s ongoing conversation with nature.

Botany of Design is Alison Soman and Lisa Charpontier. Alison is a designer with a great sense of style, a love for plants, and a drive to do her best for each client. Since 2001 Alison has been an avid gardener. Her first project included converting her 6,250 square foot lot into a haven for wildlife with Japanese Maples, Crape Myrtles, fruit trees, roses and lots and lots of perennials. For Alison gardening is a time for peace and wonder--the life that abounds within the borders of her garden is a never-ending fascination of possibility, beauty and joy. To be surrounded by such a life presence is a source of great happiness to her; one that she enjoys bringing to others.

I, Lisa, am the founder and principal designer at Botany. With a foundation of appreciation for the outdoor environment, I learned at an early age to live in close contact with the land. And as I worked with the land, I found that this work not only sculpted the environment, but it sculpted my spirit as well.

As I grew older, and moved to the urban environment, I realized that I missed the large expanse of land from my childhood, but I learned that the city also offered magical places in the outdoors, and often these magical places were sculpted through much thought and planning. In high school, I would spend my summers terracing and planting my urban hillside garden. After high school, I studied Landscape Architecture at UCBX, completing the certificate program. And I have now been designing gardens in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 7 years.

We are both new mama’s, and our family-oriented business has allowed us much luxury to be present during important milestones in our children’s lives. We are fortunate to be nourished by a rich (but hectic) family life, and careers which bring us great joy. With nourished souls, we send out little seedlings to our clients. Our reignited childhood sense of wonder and peace in the outdoor environment drives our designs. As such, we strongly believe that every design should offer the garden inhabitants a sense of wonder and peace, reflecting the love of the family, bringing a sense of tranquility, and monitoring the tradition of ritual with annual passages within the garden. It is our hope that our garden creations will ground those who enter as each creation sends out roots, and inspire with each new sprout that reaches for the sun.

I have committed to a regular contribution at this forum, and Alison is eager to participate as she is able. We write to our clients, friends, future clients, family, far-away friends, and all who delight in conversation about gardening, design, family, and a touch of mamas’ philosophizing. We invite conversation from all who are inspired to contribute.