Inspiration: Mom

As a kid, there were certain things I didn’t know I should appreciate about my mom.  Like how she braided my hair for school, or that she put extra mustard on MY sandwich because that’s how I liked it.  How she spent all that time and energy making that lovely satin dress with the tiered ruffled skirt because I wanted to wear something like all the other girls in the 7th grade.  (And I only wore it ONCE!)  The way she read “The Secret Garden”  to my sister and I and how I dreamed, as a little girl, of having my own garden someday.  I’m sure you all would have similar memories if you were to think of everything that your mom did for you through the years.

There is one specific thing that has been haunting me as of late.  It’s the acknowledgement of my mother being a “master gardener”.  I mean, that’s the title I have given her, but I think most people who witness her mad green-thumb skills would agree.

inspiration mom

Because I am now a proud home-owner, I look back at my mom’s back-breaking work in the garden and have a new appreciation.  She and my dad bought a house that was built in the late 1920’s/early 30’s, and it was a piece of junk: (or so I thought when we moved in!)

Disregard weird "photo of a photo"...after all, it was the 80's!

Disregard weird “photo of a photo”…after all, it was the 80’s!

An unfinished fireplace, misplaced palm tree, dead grass, chipping paint, rusty car part graveyard…and the list went on for miles.   This ended up being my home from the age of 11 to 19.

It transformed over the years as my parents slowly chipped away at the list of projects:


I can still feel the wind in my hair as we drove up San Simeon Creek road to hunt for river rocks to go on the chimney.  Away we flew in Dad’s blue Ford pick up, stopping so he and mom could heave smooth stones into the bed while my sister and I played riverside.  Mom had pictured stone and old brick on our chimney’s face.

The woman has vision.  She has a photographic memory.  She reads books and magazines like a lazy old man at the library (except she is anything but lazy!).  She can see things when nobody else can.  She has a knack for design.  Self-taught.  It is a gift.


As I look around at my home now, my yard…I try to envision the possibilities.  “If only my mom lived near so she could come help me figure this out!”  I think.  But she does what she can.  She gives me pep talks over the phone, tells me to draw it out, make lists, don’t get discouraged.  I appreciate all the love and care she put into our home while growing up now, as an adult.





And now:



Her homes have been featured in books and other local publications, and she has been pursued by editors of well-known garden magazines.  She chose however, to keep her secret garden under wraps, just sharing it with those she loved most.





Move-in loveliness. See that window up there? That was MY room.

It’s all fenced in now with lots of foliage.  The driveway remains in the same location:


The Oak tree that once held my tree house:


Custom garden gate:


She told the artist who created this: “Think twigs and see where it goes.”

Back door:



I could smell the wisteria from my bedroom window:


My bedroom looked directly out to the herb garden:


Other side of the house:






I love how she favors the life of a tree…

The separated garage was eventually turned into a hideaway that people could rent (some of her best friends now are people who stayed here often):





I was married under this ancient oak tree.



This was a vacant lot that sat behind the house. They purchased it later down the road…


Other fun things like an outdoor shower:


…and a rooftop deck (yes, you can barely see the sea from here)


The photos don’t do it justice.  Really.  It’s a beautiful place that took a lot of TLC over a 20 year period.

Although she sold the house a few years ago (she said, “You know, it takes a lot of work to keep a garden that size up!”), I am so grateful to have grown up here.  The memories are precious; the landscape inspiring.

She has started on a new adventure, having bought a smaller home with a  smaller garden just 1 block away from this house.  So when I return to California for a visit, I can always take a walk by my old stomping ground 🙂

I won’t even bother you with details of the inside.  Or at least right now.  She has a talent for interior decorating/design that is equally frightening!

What I am really hoping for is just a pinch of vision for our expansive yard here in Texas:


Our back yard…1.2 acres!

And if Matt and I can’t manage to come up with a plan on our own, then I know a great garden designer for hire.  Perhaps she’ll even give us a discount 🙂

Happy Mother’s Day mom!  You inspire me every day!


3 thoughts on “Inspiration: Mom

  1. Thank you Amber for this. I could’nt even remember those old pictures – so fun to see. Sandy is mom to you and something like sister and best of friend for me. With all the tangible beauty that she creates and that we all enjoy as she shares it so openly, it is her personal “light” and beauty that causes one to be drawn and eager to sit and visit, and her lovely home and garden are icing on the cake.

    We were in Hawaii when we got this blog and I couldn’t get all the photos until I got home to my “big” computer. Thanks again for these blogs – I’m enjoying and learning from them.

    Auntie Cheryl

  2. This was such a fun and inspirational read. Your mom is definitely a miracle-worker! How stunning is the care she poured over the property and the amount of beautiful details she imbued it with. I now see where your amazing talent comes from.❤️

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