Read This: Landprints: The Landscape Designs of Bernard Trainor


I was captivated by Bernard Trainor‘s designs the moment I saw one of them on the cover of New Garden Design, which I briefly reviewed in 2010. The image: A brimming bowl of water, mirroring the sky, is set apart on a gravel patio. To the left, a sinuous concrete wall offers seating while simultaneously defining the boundaries of the space. A meadowy, half-wild-looking garden entices in the background. I wanted to live there.

Last fall San Francisco designer and blogger Kelly Kilpatrick posted about that garden, which she visited on the APLD Conference Tour. Check out her gorgeous photos and tell me you don’t want to live there too. When I learned that another Trainor garden would be on the 2013 Garden Bloggers Fling tour, I couldn’t believe my luck. I never miss a Fling. In fact, I’m off today for the garden blogger event of the year — a weekend of fabulous garden tours and socializing in this year’s host city, San Francisco. Here’s the preview post of the Trainor garden we’ll be visiting.

While I was rubbing my hands with anticipation, I learned that a monograph of Trainor’s designs had been published. Landprints: The Landscape Designs of Bernard Trainor, by Susan Heeger, photographed by Jason Liske and Marion Brenner, explores the designs of ten Trainor gardens and offers insight on his early influences. Australian by birth and worshipful of its rugged wilderness, Trainor grew up to study horticulture and design, eventually moving to England, where he worked with designer Beth Chatto, “the indefatigable…voice of regionally appropriate design.” When he became director of a landscape design firm near San Francisco, Trainor felt an immediate connection with the rugged Northern California coast, whose wild beauty reminded him of the landscape of his youth.

Today Trainor focuses mainly on making contemporary gardens that feel intimately connected to the wild landscapes they inhabit. His gardens bridge the gap between the hard, modern angles of his clients’ homes and the undulating hills, wiry grasses, and wind-sculpted trees that are the reason for the homes’ existence. Studying the pictures of each garden featured in Landprints, you see that Trainor makes it look easy. Each garden seems a natural extension of the house and provides a human-scaled refuge, and yet each flows seamlessly into the wider landscape.

If you’re looking for design inspiration or simply some garden eye candy, check out the book for page after page of stunning wide shots of Trainor’s gardens. Central Texas gardeners in particular will see similarities between the rugged California landscape and our own Hill Country vistas, and while we can’t grow the same palette of plants, we can emulate the look with our own native grasses and shapely agaves, our sculptural oaks and shrubby understory trees.

Disclosure: Princeton Architectural Press sent me a copy of Landprints for review. I reviewed it at my own discretion and without any compensation. This post, as with everything at Digging, is my own personal opinion.

All material © 2006-2013 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

8 Responses

  1. Have a great time in SF Pam. I sure wish I could have gone this year. I can’t wait to see the Fling through your lens.

  2. commonweeder says:

    You are breaking my heart. I cannot be at the Fling this year, but I’ll be thinking of all of you and your adventures – and waiting for photos of all that I missed.

  3. sandy lawrence says:

    Oh, cannot WAIT to see your Fling photos, Pam! And wishing you a fabulous time there, also …

  4. Alison says:

    I am so looking forward to the Fling! I’m not familiar with many of the big names in current landscape/garden design, but the pictures Kelly showed make this one that we’re going to see look pretty amazing. This sounds like a really interesting book, with lots of pictures. I need the eye candy.

  5. Have a great time in SF. It is my hope to one day do something like this! :)
    Pamie G.

  6. Anna K. says:

    Looks like a fantastic book! Thanks for the heads-up – so enticing! Enjoy the Fling! :)

  7. Mamaholt says:

    FLING happiness to you!!!

    That cover shot is pretty much my dream pool/yard so looks like I’ll be buying yet ANOTHER damn book.

  8. This looks like a wonderful read – thanks Pam! Looking forward to your fling tour posts :) Hope you had an amazing time!!!!

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