The ordinary garden wall has latent powers. In the hands of a landscape magician like Bernard Trainor
it can provide enclosure, seating, and visual drama all at once. See
how his low wall bending around a bowl-shaped water feature draws us into the circle close to the reflecting pool — it's a liquid
campfire! — deftly creating a simple but memorable outdoor room. You can also see how the wall’s whiplash curve reels the rest of the garden into view.
I had the pleasure of working with Bernard Trainor on a project for Sunset magazine
— and I admire his pragmatic/poetic approach. He first studies the site
to document water movement, soil types, vegetation, view shed, and
seasonal dynamics. He says: “These site patterns are a repository of
meaning — they do not lie…” Then he combines this new knowledge with the
client’s program and starts to design; good advice for any garden
Garden walls can be made of almost anything. In Phoenix I have seen walls made from gabions, which are wire mesh cages filled with rocks –
typically used in civil engineering projects to stabilize slopes and
shorelines. In a garden they’re like works of environmental art. My
friend and former colleague at Sunset, Senior Garden Writer Sharon Cohoon, is a fan of gabions and discovered a Utah company called Ore Containers that makes unusual tall water features out of gabions.