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Specializing in colorful, water-conserving gardens

Specializing in colorful, water-conserving gardens

about joan

Principal Designer Joan S. Bolton confesses to a life-long love affair with plants.

A native of southern California, she grew up tending her own vegetable garden and house plants. Joan moved to Goleta 30 years ago, and has gardened like a fiend ever since. She is constantly hauling home new plants to test. At last count, she and her husband Tom had planted several thousand shrubs, perennials, ground covers and trees on their four-acre property in western Goleta. They also maintain about 30 avocado, citrus and fruit trees, and grow vegetables and herbs year-round.

Certain areas -- including flowering borders in their back yard -- have undergone more transformations than Joan might care to admit. Recent projects have included installing a deer fence around their vegetable garden, laying flagstone and gravel paths, planting a test bed of various varieties of lavender, and transplanting 20+ roses from throughout the landscape into a dedicated rose garden in an effort to protect the delectable foliage and flowers from deer.

Joan has been designing Central Coast gardens for nearly 20 years and is a member of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers, the national association that establishes and encourages standards of excellence in landscape design.

While most of her landscape design projects are on the South Coast -- in Santa Barbara, Montecito, Goleta and Carpinteria -- she has also created gardens in Santa Ynez, Los Olivos, Buellton and Los Alamos. Many of her projects are renovations -- her clients have inherited or grown tired of existing, overgrown landscapes and want to start fresh. So out go the Bermuda grass, bedraggled shrubs and other lackluster vegetation, and in come fresh, colorful plantings custom-designed for each client's special wishes and needs.

Santa Barbara Garden Design's Joan S. Bolton has never met a plant she didn't like - or at least appreciate in some capacity. Whether designing gardens or writing about them, she has always marveled at the way single plants might not be impressive on their own. Yet they become magical when viewed in combination with others.

Joan also spreads her love of plants through freelance writing.

Joan received her masters degree in journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and has written freelance articles about gardening for 25 years. She often provides photographs as well.

She writes Edible Garden columns for Edible Santa Barbara and Central Coast Farm and Ranch, posts In the Garden features on her blog and contributes to Fine Gardening and Montecito Magazine.

She has been a regular contributor to Woman's Day's gardening publications, and has written for Horticulture, Flower and Garden, Landscape Architecture, House Beautiful, San Jose Mercury News and Los Angeles Times. She formerly wrote gardening articles for the Santa Maria Times, Santa Ynez Valley News, Lompoc Record, Times-Press-Recorder, South Coast Beacon and Santa Barbara News-Press. She has also written for Santa Barbara Magazine and contributed content to websites for the National Education Association and All-America Rose Selections. In addition, she provided several photos for "Reimagining the California Lawn," published by Cachuma Press.

Joan is active in the Santa Barbara County Horticultural Society and served on the board for four years. She is a long-time member of Garden Writers Association and regularly attends GWA's national symposiums to learn about the latest trends in gardening and design.