One of my favorite things about being a passionate gardener myself is getting to meet other passionate gardeners. I’ve been so lucky to have met so many incredible people, and then when I see their gardens I’m even MORE amazed.
A gardener’s own garden is truly an expression of their soul. And you can literally ‘feel’ the blood, sweat and tears that went into it’s creation. You know that feeling when you walk into a garden, no matter how large or small it is – and you’re just taken by surprise, blown away by the ‘feeling’ it generates deep within you? That’s it’s soul – and it’s something that can’t be duplicated.
I’d like to share some of these people and their gardens with you, as part of a series I’m creating called ‘Gardeners and Their Gardens’. Some will be professional gardeners, some will not. But all have their hearts firmly planted in their gardens.
I’d like to introduce you to an amazing creative-powerhouse couple: Freeland and Sabrina Tanner of Napa, California.
They’re both professional Garden Designers with their company Proscape Landscape Design, and whether you realize it or not you’ve probably seen their designs featured in countless garden magazines.
What I love about the Tanners is 1) their boundless energy, 2) their humble attitude, 3) their generous spirit, and 4) the sheer talent that just oozes from every pore in their body (more about that later). Seriously – these two do it ALL. They’re out in their garden tending it THEMSELVES, no hired hands to take directions from them (well, maybe with the exception of major heavy work), and it’s truly a labor of love. The property has been in Freeland’s family for several generations. As you stroll through the garden you’ll walk under some of the trees his grandfather planted years and years ago, and you can just FEEL the garden’s energy.
I realize there’s no way I can capture the essence of this garden in just a few photos, but I’ll give it my best shot. But don’t leave me just yet – after the garden pics it gets even BETTER! Not only are they incredible artists in the garden, but Freeland has another unbelievable talent, which I’ll talk about at the end of this post…
The front of their garden consists of a massive vegetable bed which you enter through my favorite gate in the whole wide world! (all structures are hand-made by Freeland, mind you. They’re BIG into building EVERYTHING themselves….).
This is not your typical front garden either, but one that’s both edible and stunningly beautiful at the same time.
Not an easy feat!
As you stroll around the side of their home to the rear garden (passing the cypress arbor) you begin to enter ‘Tanner World’.
This world consists of garden room after garden room, each with it’s own distinct ‘feel’ and ‘charm’, each masterfully created.
Round the bend and through the next gate, you spy a secret room – the Potager. And all of a sudden you’re in a Beatrix Potter story, complete with the cutest tool shed you’ve ever seen (and yes, there’s a bunny and a chicken).
What else would you expect?
When you exit the potager you’ll find yourself on a winding pathway of crunchy pea gravel, leading you to a charming seating area (another creation of Freeland’s).
Everywhere you look is another ‘vignette’, another pathway to follow, another view to take in…
At last you arrive at the entrance to their main house – the stunning focal point of their garden.
Their garden now takes on a different feel – perhaps a little more formal (maybe it’s the clipped hedges), yet still somewhat informal at the same time with the billowing shrubs within the borders.
And then there’s the Tanner’s collections….all throughout the garden you’ll find groupings of watering cans, vintage lawn sprinklers, garden tools, all artfully placed ‘just so’.
And when you think you may have seen it all – you’re hit with a whole other side of Freeland (at this point, you may want to get a refill on your coffee before continuing- it gets even better!)
Not only are the Tanners amazing gardeners, but Freeland is equally at home in his wood shop. He’s an amazing artist and one of a very few people in the WORLD who carve creations known as Tramp Art. His pieces are so remarkable that Freeland is the ‘Featured Artist’ at the Napa Valley Museum‘s new American Folk Art Festival (running May 1st – July 5th).
The Tanners gave me a ‘behind the scenes’ look as to what goes into making his art. What I love most about these pieces is it blends their love of nature into another stunning art form. These pieces are made with over 5,000 pieces of wood – and thousands and thousands of hand-carved notches. These massive creations were literally in every room of the house, waiting to be crated up and sent to the museum.
These pieces are so intriquitely carved that I’ve tried to show you a few of their complete images, with lots of close-ups. You’ll noticed that most pieces have hearts – lots and lots of hearts. And birds, and flowers, and most other elements of nature.
And these pieces don’t just ‘sit there’ either! Most every one has one or more ‘hidden compartments’ within each piece – boxes here, pull out drawers there…you never know what you’re going to find when you start looking closely.
In his work shop everywhere you look you’ll see half-finished pieces just waiting for Freeland’s attention. He prefers working on several at once, so he doesn’t get bored. BORED???
What’s interesting to note, is he designs each of these on a CAD system, and at that point they are then carefully and painstakingly executed by Freeland.
Patience is the crucial ingredient in both nurturing a maturing garden as well as creating such stand-alone works of art.
And patience they have!