Cross Pollination at Dustin’s Garden of Ideas


Welcome to garden designer Dustin Gimbel‘s home and garden in Long Beach, California. I was lucky enough to be invited to a recent party for his friends and fellow garden enthusiasts from Southern California, which Dustin called Cross Pollination. It was a wonderful gathering of garden lovers, including bloggers Denise from A Growing Obsession and Cindy from Dirt Du Jour–and Annette and Mary, the two lovely owners of the hippest nursery in Los Angeles, called Potted, as well as friends, artists, beekeepers, hort-heads and other creative types.



I know Dustin, who owns Second Nature Garden Design, as one of the top landscape designers in our area, as you can see here on his Web site, and frequently pass some of the yards he has done in Laguna Beach when I walk around town. Dustin was too busy taking care of his guests to give a formal tour, but welcomed us to roam around and even take photos.



It was such a treat to see what he did with his own home–and I loved every inch of it! Dustin has an encyclopedic knowledge of plants, and can recall the common and Latin names of anything you can find. He shares many of his projects–everything from favorite plants to building potting tables to raising bees–on his garden blog called Non-secateur.



He creates spaces that are open and inviting, and he incorporates the organic patterns and materials of nature into his plantings, such as his raw concrete creations to sculptural arbors and screens.



At first, the garden appears loose and informal, but when you look closer, you notice Dustin’s attention to detail, and how the color, texture, size and shape of the plants mingle and complement each other.


Examples of Dustin’s creativity, resourcefulness and imagination are everywhere. He admits his obsession with concrete orbs.



Here’s a simple fountain and tiny pond Dustin built directly in front of his front porch.



Who isn’t a total sucker for Queen Anne’s Lace (at least that’s what I think it is.)



Lots of large containers–which he advocates over smaller ones in gardens–as well as succulents, California natives and exotic plants.



So that’s just the front yard. Come join the party for a minute…



Are you surprised that Dustin also is an amazing cook? He pickled and canned those cucumbers and red onions the day before–tart and tangy! He recently shared in this post how he made sauerkraut from his homegrown cabbages. The grilled squash is from his garden, too.

He also made bread pudding and this pie for desert. Someone else made that delectable apricot tart. The cool thing about garden people is they not only know how to grow plants, but they have endless energy and ideas for what to do with them–like making amazing food and enjoying it with fun-loving friends in a fabulous outdoor setting!

Here we are in Dustin’s backyard dining room.  Dustin would be seated there next to me, but he was running around making sure everyone was getting fat and happy.

The dining area is divided from the rest of the yard by this geometric screen and reflecting pool with floating glass orbs. Dustin dedicated the evening to his grandmother, who recently passed away at the age of 90.

(Can you see the Achillea “Moonshine” in the background?)

Here’s another giant container that’s loaded with gorgeous plants.

Some of his air plants on the outside of his garden shed.

Here are some of the fantastic garden orbs Dustin made, along with the plastic orange ball he used as a mold. Dustin also made textured concrete pavers to form the paths that wind through his yard. The vine is Dutchman’s pipe, and the deep purple, lung-shaped pod was quite the conversation piece. Behind the dining area is his bountiful vegetable garden and latest project–a bee hive.

I’m sure I’ve missed so much of his garden since I only spent about 15 minutes snapping these photos–but you can learn more about how Dustin literally built it himself from the ground up on his blog. I just didn’t want to miss any more the super fun party!




11 thoughts on “Cross Pollination at Dustin’s Garden of Ideas

    1. Thanks Annette. Really enjoyed meeting you, too! My son tells me the finale of Girls is on tonight. Trying to brace myself for more awkward “interactions.” Hope to see you again soon!

  1. Wasn’t that a swell dinner? The perfect evening — interesting people, plants, and great food. And now I’ve gotta check out Girls to see what the hubbub is about.

  2. What a great time that must have been, good company, lovely and creative garden. We do something similar in Austin, a monthly meet-up of garden bloggers at one of our gardens. But I love the idea of “cross-pollinating” with local designers, nursery owners, etc.

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