An English garden surrounds the Nantucketstyle cottage in Brentwood, California, that Teri Ciarlo shares with her husband, Chuck, and twin sons, Luca and Jack. It pays homage to her grandmother, who taught her about gardening when she was a child. “She loved her garden, her fruit trees and her 40 rosebushes, and she loved to entertain,” says Teri, a landscape designer. “I’d always help her cut and arrange the flowers for her parties.” Her grandmother’s influence directed both Teri’s personal style and her career.
In the herb garden, twins Luca and Jack
sample homegrown strawberries and
tend to their garden patch.Despite her upbringing, Teri’s tastes are her own. “While I love old-fashioned roses and a somewhat unstructured garden,” she says, “I also like detail and architecture, so I create floral vignettes inside a formal frame.” To surround her own cottage garden, Teri has planted a hedge of neatly clipped boxwood bushes.
The yard itself overflows with climbing roses and colorful perennials. She’s also left space for fruit trees—an orange and a kumquat in decorative pots and a fig tree that’s grown large enough for the boys to climb.
Though her own style is traditional, when Teri designs gardens for clients, she tries to stay true to the style of the house, creating settings appropriate to the architecture. If there’s a particular plant someone loves that doesn’t really go, she suggests bringing it into the garden in a container that matches the home’s style.” When possible, she also likes to include herb gardens in her designs. “Often, they’re very sentimental places that evoke a lot of memories for people,” she says. “Even a tiny one can recall the design and fragrances of a childhood garden.”
As her grandmother did, Teri passes along her love of the garden to her boys, planting and gathering flowers with them and having them join her to pick herbs for meals. “The more you get into gardening, the more creative you become,” she says. “In the garden, there’s always a new challenge.”
Teri Ciarlo’s ideas for making your children at home in the garden.
- Start kids out with a plot of their own and some easy-to-grow plants. Teri’s recommends morning glories, parsley, strawberries, rosemary and daisies.
- Use the bottom half of an old egg carton to grow plants from seeds. Later, help the kids transplant the seedlings from their individual “pots” into the herb garden or flower bed.
- Plant a butterfly garden. “It’s a great way for kids to see firsthand how plants and insects interrelate,” says Teri. Or, try another kid favorite: a pumpkin patch.
- Allow children to paint and decorate terra-cotta pots, then plant them with herbs or flowering plants for party favors. “Kids love to show off their work to their families,” says Teri.
- Fill small paper bags with cuttings from aromatic herbs such as mint, basil and rosemary, writing the names on the bottoms of the bags. Let the kids take these “scent bags” to share at school; they can see if the other kids can sniff out what the plants are.