Pam Hughes, a local landscape and interior designer with with a dramatic art and dance background, sees garden design as choreography. Inspired by a project’s site, Hughes integrates her client’s gardens to the architecture of the home. After ascertaining the goal of the landscape in terms of function, maintenance and budget, she hand-drafts the design plan. “I like the tactile approach of drafting by hand, not with a computer. I hand-color my designs.” She refers to her own yard, which was chosen to be on the League of Women Voter’s annual garden tour
in 2010, as an unwitting test garden for designing around dogs: her 110-pound Anatolian Shepherd puppy loves to chew and has figured out how to jump the fence.

Viewing design from an eco-friendly, water-wise perspective, Hughes uses grasses and ornamental succulents in her designs, to beautiful effect. She says she’s “not big on lawns,” they require too much water, fertilizer, pesticide and maintenance. Hughes feels that all gardens should be a work in progress, and shares these tips for a successful landscape:

— Always do hardscape improvements first.

— Drought-tolerant plants need well-drained soil. Amend Benicia’s clay soil with organic compost.

— A water feature is always nice, even if it’s just a birdbath or simple fountain.

— Incorporate raised vegetable beds or fruit trees into the landscape.