About Hara Gardens
Landscape Design, Garden Coaching and Consultation services in the San Francisco Bay area.
"Influenced by the gardens of Japan, but educated about sustainable design practices for the numerous Mediterranean micro-climates of the Bay Area, I have adopted a so-called "California Zen" approach to the landscape. I like contemporary but cozy entrances and outdoor living spaces with a unique architectural signature, but I also want to support the Bay Area's natural habitats, including the conservation of water, through thoughtful design.
Each garden and landscape should have its own "feel." I work hard to match the plant selection and layout to suit the homeowners' aesthetic, maintenance requirements, and the unique geography of the location itself.
"Hara" is a term I learned in martial arts sometime in 2012. Loosely, in Japanese, it means qi or energy in the central abdomen. Renowned Tai Chi teacher Kenneth Cohen, author of The Way of Qigong, says ”...the belly is considered 'field of the elixir,' where you plant the seeds of long life and wisdom.” I use this analogy in my approach to landscape design, where the delicateness, hardiness and resilience of life is illustrated through the seasons.
As a permaculture enthusiast, I encourage clients to consider growing food. While I love waterwise plants like succulents for their geometric patterns and easy maintenance, it's very rewarding to have edibles like culinary herbs and statuesque artichokes mixed into the perennial bed. I love sharing my own home recycling ecosystems, composting and vermiculture, which provide organic fertilizer and helps build bio-dynamic soil, a practice which sequesters carbon and keeps everything in the garden happy. Always on the lookout for how to make permaculture beautiful to the eye, I source home composting units from Sweden, and vermiculture bins from New Zealand. (Waiting for the USA)
Lauren Anthony completed the UC Master Gardener training in 2013, accumulated 300 hours of Landscape Architecture instruction at UC Berkeley Extension, and is a student of Eco-Landscape Mastery.
She has been an avid, life-long gardener and tomato grower, with a passion towards water stewardship, and functionally beautiful design.
"Lauren really took the time to listen to what we were thinking and she helped guide us to wonderful ideas that had not occurred to us. She clearly knows and loves her plants, assuring they are placed appropriately to make wonderful outdoor spaces. We also appreciate her occasional check up visits."
Barbara A., San Rafael
Consultations are usually three hours. The time can be allotted in many ways, including an on-the-spot design, a visit to the local nursery, or a phased outline for a larger project.
A surcharge may apply for travel further than 20 miles from San Rafael, CA 94901.
Coaching may be via text, phone or email and the use of relevant design websites for clients outside of the SF Bay Area.
Landscape Design Service
Designing a full landscape requires an artful process of sharing ideas and color palettes. I'll either hand draw, to scale, a plan view of the new landscape, in phases to be approved of, or use a mix of AutoCAD and Adobe Creative suite.
Most homeowners budget 10% of the value of their home for the entirety of their outdoor space.
Real Estate Staging
Curb appeal is crucial and yet so many choose to forego a simple re-design when money spent will ensure a good first impression. "Staged" landscape designs are based on the architecture and location of the home, as well as the aesthetic of the interior stagers.
I find it beneficial to work with the existing gardener when installing a simple plant design, however a landscape installation company is sometimes needed for larger projects. Installation professionals can address the design specifications of soil amendments, irrigation, lighting, custom welding and other hardscape features like decks and patios.
For plant designs, I source healthy varieties from nurseries in Sonoma and other wholesalers, and place them according to the final plan. Often, a few tweaks are made at the last minute to create the perfect finishing touch.
A jewelry designer needed to spruce up her front and back living areas in anticipation of a family reunion. The fence was painted to match the house, the front courtyard was filled with a soothing but cheerful palette of succulents, natives, grasses and a standard flowering blue hibiscus. Salvaged wooden shelves were stained, planted with succulents, and hung on the wall.
The side pathway planters were lined with clumping bamboo for privacy. Landing at the lagoon patio, an espaliered Black Mission Fig and 7 year old Meyer Lemon lead the way towards custom planter boxes filled with a mix of Mediterranean culinary herbs.
A 24-foot planter along the length of the deck, facing the lagoon, was filled with "Stipa tennuisima," a popular but invasive grass that I use only in very confined situations.
Riviera Circle, Larkspur
Riviera Circle, Larkspur
A beautiful new bluestone patio and staircase installed by the homeowner inspired a collection of waterwise Mediterranean and South African plants (and a french drain.) This design was in collaboration with Beth La Dove at Modern Farmhouse.
A CA native front yard had not grown in well, and a mother-in-law courtyard was barren. The resulting design included removing a non-native tree and a new glossed cedar fence. A new flagstone patio outside of the master bedroom and a new walkway through to the mother-in-law courtyard improved the flow and availability of more space. I chose various grasses and flowering shrubs, succulents and as a nod to the family roots, a pomegranate tree. An unused back patio and deck were framed with a new 36" raised cedar planter a row of Oakleaf hydrangeas. A shady walkway was brightened with repeated planters filled wth orange Abutilon.
"Gardens are the slowest of the performing arts."
The homeowners faced a very dry, very steep hill in the back yard. In a collaboration with Modern Farmhouse, we designed a landscape inspired by famed Danish landscape designer Piet Odouf, who "paints" with plants. I walked away form this project with a new and profound appreciation for native wildflowers.