Our Garden Tour Star Lisa Zeder

From time to time, we highlight “Our Garden Tour Stars” -- landscape architects, florists, and interior designers who have participated at our annual Garden Tour and Showcase Estate at the Virginia Robinson Gardens. We want to let you know about these very talented designers, their inspirations, and their creations.

This month, we are featuring garden designer Lisa Zeder. She has created exquisite gardens and spectacular public spaces in Southern California and other locations in the United States and England. Working in tandem with the Belgian firm Wirtz International, she designed a beautiful private garden on our members-only 2022 Garden Tour.

We asked her these six questions:

1. Which garden changed your life or made an impact on you?

I would have to say my mother’s garden. Watching my mother in the garden, fantastically content, spending hours a day, planting, feeding, trimming…and brimming with pride by days end were the driving forces behind my entry into the garden. As I became older, with young children of my own, I thought often of my mother and the joy she found in her quiet moments outside….and so, in search of that joy and respite, I decided to follow in her footsteps and become a gardener.

Before long, I too, was spending hours a day either in my garden or at the nursery or curled up in a chair with my treasured Sunset Western Garden Book - learning all I could about not only my favorite plants, but options for my favorites and companion planting and proper soil and light, feeding and trimming…it became a world I just couldn't get enough of. As my knowledge grew, and the confidence to succeed and fail became comfortably interchangeable, with my trusty Sunset Western Garden Book never far, I ventured into more complicated design, completely ripping out and starting fresh in areas of the garden I had previously been too timid to address.

I eventually found myself in the gardens of others…. friends, friends of friends….and ultimately enrolled in the UCLA Architecture program - seeking to further my knowledge base for these new gardens that had entered my life. It was there that I learned the process of aligning my design instincts with proven design principles and where I learned the importance of combining my plant selections with proper horticultural practices…. proper soil, light…best practices that we follow today.

Thirty-five years later, with many gardens having been handed over to our care and the many garden friendships this care has resulted in…. I still see the image of my mother in every garden we create…her at days end, cup of tea in one hand, cigarette in the other - contentedly surveying the day’s work in her garden…the garden that changed my life.

2. Who is your favorite landscape designer (living or not living) and why?

My list is long and varied - men and women I have admired and turned to repeatedly for garden inspiration and wisdom. My knowledge of garden designers was awakened at Hennessey and Ingalls, a beloved and favored book shop in Santa Monica known for vast and endless books on art, architecture, interiors and, to a lesser degree in those early days, gardens! Each new commission I received inevitably resulted in hours on the floor, with a pile of books at my side - looking for that one inspiration image, that one book I would bring home to help me tell the story of this new garden.

On these floors, I met men and women of great talent…Frederick Law Olmstead, Jens Jensen, Russell Page. And in later years, the dedication and beauty of Francis Cabot and Furlow Gatewood in their own gardens.

The woman I met were many and hold dear to this day…. Penelope Hobhouse, Rosemary Verey, Gertrude Jekyll, Beatrix Farrand, Edith Wharton, and in later years, Arabella Lennox-Boyd and Nancy Goslee Power. For me, these men and women of the garden carry a garden passion and delight that speak to me and support my belief that gardens are the great equalizers - a common thread that can weave us into conversations of warmth, delight, and shared stories.

3. Which historical garden in the world is your favorite and why?

As with selecting a favorite designer - picking a favorite garden is nearly impossible. Gardens offer gifts for all…and gifts for one may not be the same for another. My first memories of public gardens would be the Palisades Park in Santa Monica. For a period, we lived within walking distance of the park and as children, spent many an afternoon climbing trees, collecting bouquets of leaves and pine needles, picnicking on the lawn…. I may not have fully understood the value and importance of public gardens at that age, but I certainly embraced their existence and have many a fond memory of those days.

In later years, as my adult life began to evolve around gardens, I enjoyed visits on my own and with my children to Huntington Gardens, Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden, Descanso Gardens, the LA Arboretum, and the Virginia Robinson Gardens…. all fantastic gardens offering varying visions of the glory of California gardens. To travel outward from my home surroundings, I would include Central Park, Prospect Park, and Boston Commons - parks, trails, and gardens to be shared and enjoyed by all. And lastly, to carry on to parks outside of America... Wisely Gardens in England for its beautiful gardens and horticultural excellence.

4. Can you please share photos of your garden and/or projects you have worked on?

Mill House, UK

Montecito, California

Palisades Village, Pacific Palisades, California

Rustic Canyon, Santa Monica, California

San Vicente Bungalows, West Hollywood, California

Texas Ranch

Villa Ruchello, Santa Monica, California

5. What is the book that inspires you the most?

I would have to go back to my trusty Sunset Western Garden Book!
For me, in my early years and onward to this day - this book is never far from my reach.

Another book that happily found its way into my world is Landscape Plants for California Gardens by Bob Perry - a reference book that is not only filled with plant material images and information, but also includes irrigation information and guidelines for each plant - an excellent asset in managing water use in our gardens.

6. What advice on gardening has been the most impactful to share?

I would say the best advice I ever received in the garden, can be applied to life outside the garden as well; follow my instincts, do my research, and joyfully keep at it!

Contact information:

L.Z. Design Group, Inc.
984 Monument Street Suite #101
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
Office: 310-454-0905
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.lzdesigngroupinc.com

  1. […] firm Wirtz international and was subsequently translated by the very talented garden designer Lisa Zeder. Working in tandem with the Wirtzes, Lisa used hedges of Japanese boxwood and Carolina cherry to […]

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