The art of collecting garden art

Rebecca parker is a gem. She’s a lone star collector, sitting alone amid a rugged collection of amazing garden objects and plant matter on State Street in Carlsbad.

And if you need unusual pots, mirrors, statues, rare glass jars or even bird cages, you will find them here.

But unfortunately for all her loyal followers, her eclectic store is closing at the end of August. Now it’s time to grab those treasures before they’re lost forever.

As the sole owner of Rebecca’s Garden, her decades-long collection of finds has taught her that even the strangest objects make good bedfellows. “Recently I took a large glass water jug ​​with a spigot, added some succulents, green moss and a clay bird,” she said. “No one knew the succulents were fake, but they looked gorgeous.

“But seriously, most of my designs are made with real plants and found objects. I particularly enjoy placing an object, any object, in an interesting container. It makes the viewer stop and look for a second and say, “What the hell was that?”

“And the trompe-l’oeil continues as the viewer looks down into a tiny glass jar filled with plant matter, a miniature dinosaur and a tiny Buddha, and feels like Gulliver in ‘Gulliver’s Travels.’ A lot of the bigger shops now sell fairy gardens – well I’ve been doing this for 20 years.”

When asked what her favorite item was, she cheerfully replied, “Blue, blue, blue and white everywhere! When I went to China in 1976, I found my first true blue and white pottery.

“But I also found it in England as ‘Wedgewood Blue’ and in the Mexican Talavera designs. True garden collectors will buy anything blue to complement their garden landscaping.”

There are over 50 blue and white pieces in her garden yard, but they’re fading fast.

When the final move to her Oceanside home is complete, Rebecca will lead classes in painting, landscaping, fabric painting, and tile work.

Contact them at [email protected] or visit her at 3087 State Street, where she is open seven afternoons each week through August 26.


Apparently, the trick to inexpensive decorative gardening is to use a small amount of plant material, such as a succulent, cacti, perennial cuttings, or vegetable, which can be accentuated by a nice piece of pottery or a found object.

According to Scott Calhoun of Tucson, Arizona, in his 2009 book Hot Pots, when planting individual specimens like hibiscus, plumeria, or euphorbia, it’s important to “remember that the number one element is the plant. You want to choose containers that show off the best qualities of the plant. When placing pots in your garden, form a group near the entrance, on a narrow walkway or stairway.

“In the contemporary staging, plants are used rhythmically and sculpturally to create a kind of living potted artwork. This look is achieved by repeating identical cacti or succulents, for example by placing three rows of miniature barrel cacti in a rectangular container.”

As illustrated in “Hot Pots,” Scott suggests, “Look for unusual metal, wood, or ceramic containers and place them next to a wall with a mirror, wooden cross, or Mexican retablo. Your garden will grow and grow with your travels over the years, so don’t try to do everything at once.”


So often when we live in a small space we long for an expansive garden that we may have had in the past. Without a piece of land or a large garden, we need to create “miniature outdoor spaces”.

While attending the Desert Botanical Garden Landscape Designer School 10 years ago, I had the honor of meeting one of Arizona’s leading landscape designers. As a transplant artist from upstate New York, I had to learn how to design yards and spaces with very few trees and small patios with lots of pots.

Cesar Mazier is a quiet celebrity landscape architect and former horticultural director of the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. I say “quiet famous” because he is not a boastful soul and is happy to share many of his trade secrets.

In my interview with him a few years ago, he shared so many of his secrets about designing a backyard that looks like you hired a landscape architect, but is a DIY project using materials from the hardware store.


According to Cesar, “A lot of home gardeners don’t realize that they can create an expensive-looking garden with a little paint and sturdy terracotta pots from the hardware store. I often buy an expensive, very large, handmade Chinese planter, as big as my budget will allow, and use it as a focal point.

“Well, here’s the trick. I buy at least three terracotta pots of different sizes (8 to 10 inches) and paint them with exterior matte house paint. Buy small, pint-sized varieties of paints in closely related colors on a color wheel. For example, if you’re highlighting a bright azure high-glazed 2-foot Chinese planter, you could buy house paint in periwinkle blue and deep lavender.

“These matte colors also have endless possibilities when you add matte white to make the terracotta pots appear lighter or darker, almost like creating your own color wheel. The possibilities are endless once you start with a brush and a can of paint.

“To complete the design for the patio, I place my hand-painted terracotta pots in a circle around the 2ft azure blue Chinese planter and voila, we have a classic patio design created by the home gardener.”

Caesar’s website ( contains step-by-step videos for designing a complete backyard, including pathways, seating, planting material, and water features. His photo gallery is exquisite, and although he was photographed in Arizona, many of the designs can be used in Southern California.

Please send us your suggestions and photos so that we can pass them on to other readers. E-mail [email protected].

Jano Nightingale is a master gardener and gardener who teaches classes at the Carlsbad Senior Center and other locations. Contact them at [email protected].

About Rachael Garcia

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