As The Garden Grows
Getting out to lavish love on our city, each week, has unearthed many unexpected delights. New people, new places, new perspectives – Costa Mesa truly sows seeds of wonder around every turn. And today’s feature is a perfect example of one such accidental, yet serendipitous surprise.
A few months ago, we were driving through adorable Eastside when we saw a sight that stirred us to a screeching halt. There, before us, was a rustic-yet-retro, charming-yet-contemporary, coordinated-yet-casual residential landscape being installed at the feet of a cute, little cottage. Besmitten with all-things-Costa-Mesa as we are, we just had to meet the genius behind this gawk-worthy garden.
So we hopped out of the car and made our merry introductions to the lady behind the landscape – one Camille Beehler of Camille Beehler Landscape Designs. And we are happy to report that not only is Camille a proud Costa Mesan, but she is every inch as lovely as the botanical designs she divines.
Camille Beehler Landscape Design: In The Business Of Making The World More Beautiful
photographer: brandy young
We sat down with the Camille Beehler, and her artistic husband, Matthew – in their beautifully well-appointed, Eastside home – to find out more about this thriving little business growing like so many gardens in that part of town.
“I’ve been doing landscapes for over twenty-five years and it has taken me all over the world,” Beehler began. “I went to the University of Connecticut and then moved to Florence, Italy after that. I studied art and landscape while I was abroad and then, once I came back to the States, I got a job with Disney Imagineering.
“So I moved out to Los Angeles and worked for Disney on Euro Disney and the landscaping and three-dimensional design models for the rides. Our team put together how the whole park was going to be laid out.
“It was about that time I met my husband, Matthew, and moved down to Orange County to be with him. After a couple of years the recession hit Orange County and the work dried up. So we decided to move to Singapore and it ended up being a great move. Things were booming in Southeast Asia and there was tons of work.
“We both got jobs for Peridian International which is a big landscape firm. It was an amazing experience. We traveled all over the world and worked on some really great projects. But eventually we were ready to start a family so we moved back to California.”
Creativity Compounded: Matthew and Camille Beehler Aren’t Just Husband and Wife, They’re a Designer Dynamic Duo
photographer: brandy young
Once the kids came, Beehler traded in big, corporate work and international projects for a simpler, creative life closer to home.
“Kids change everything,” said Beehler. “I wanted to be around for it – be an involved Mom – so I decided to start my own business from home. First I started a little side business making potted, container gardens with succulents and drought-tolerant plants. I called it Petite Pots. I would give the gardens as gifts to the staff at my kids’ elementary school and soon friends were making special requests. ‘I need a hostess gift,’ or ‘I have a birthday party and my daughter loves the color purple.’ It just started evolving from there.
“One day, I got a phone call out of the blue from Ethan Wayne, John Wayne’s son. He said he’d seen my work and wanted to hire me on some projects. I ended up designing the landscapes for his home, his office and even some of his rental properties.
“Then Tim Carr got a hold of me. Tim owns Villa Real Estate and we’ve ended up doing quite a few projects for him on the rental arm of his business. That’s when things really took off and the whole thing kept growing and growing from there.”
Keeping It Fresh: Beehler Designs Sustainable Landscapes with Location, Lot Size and Livability in Mind
photographer: brandy young
Even though things get busy for Beehler – who is currently booked with back-to-back projects for the foreseeable future – she’s definitely spending her days living in her personal sweet spot.
“This is a dream job for me,” said Beehler. “I love plants and I love making people happy. I love the process, the clients and seeing that finished product when it all comes together. Every project gives me joy – from the smallest garden to the large lot with an infinity-edge pool – there’s a deep satisfaction in making the world a more beautiful place.
“I’m really passionate about drought-tolerant landscaping – and I get the joy of introducing these wonderful new plants to people. So often, Southern California yards are outdated and the plants are using too much water; they’re overgrown and woody. So to come in with a fresh look and introduce the exciting options that are on the market now – it’s a great feeling.
“Drought-tolerant doesn’t just mean succulents and cactus. There are so many interesting plants that don’t need a lot water but still bloom colorfully and beautifully. I personally love Leucadendrons, Blue Glow Agaves – and ornamental grasses because they’re soft and they move in the breeze. I love olive trees, aloe trees, Palo Verde trees with their green trunks and bright, yellow flowers. Oh, and Euphorbias are so interesting; and Kangaroo Paws always add a nice texture.
“We come up with the original idea, but we work with the client to customize it to their liking. We want our clients happy with the direction. We want them to feel like the landscaping jives with their lifestyle.”
When Beehler needs a sounding board or some conceptual collaboration, she’s fortunate to not be the only designer in the house. Her husband, Matthew Beehler, is an accomplished artist, designer, landscape architect, urban planner and all-around creative dude.
“My husband is an amazing artist and he helps me out a lot,” said Beehler. “A lot of our skills complement each other. For example, while I’m out in the field or shopping for supplies and plants, he might be here at the house keeping the project flowing on the back end. He’ll take a project and put it into the computer so we can make an AutoCAD model of it. He’s also great with marketing and does things like make signs for me to put in our yards. His involvement just takes everything to that next level.
“Matthew owns an urban-design firm up in Los Angeles, so that works out really nicely for us to have that extra help. He has designers and other supportive people on staff who can add extra levels of detail to my projects. We make a really great team, that way – and I think it shows in the designs.
“Driving by our landscapes around town, it makes me really happy to see them – to watch them grow in. Even if there’s not a lot of color in a given landscape, you can see the creativity there. It just adds that freshness to the property. It adds vibrancy and love and life and happiness. I know some people think, ‘What’s the big deal? It’s just a yard.’ But not to me. I think landscapes absolutely matter. So take out that lawn, already, and don’t be afraid to get creative with what you put in its place.”
Making her mark on Costa Mesa had really added up for Beehler over the years.
“At this point, I’ve landscaped so many properties in Eastside Costa Mesa, it’s like I’m living in my own portfolio,” said Beehler. “There are two homes on 23rd street and one right around the corner from my house. There are three on Fullerton, two on Broadway, one on Fairway… I would say 15-20 homes at this point. Then I did Tim Carr’s office over on Rochester; so yeah, it’s a lot.
“I’ll be on my way to the grocery store and purposely take little detours through the neighborhood to see how people are keeping up the yards. We have a lot of cottages here on the Eastside; it’s very eclectic which makes it really fun. There’s a nice variety.
So landscaped or not, what does the well-traveled Beehler think of Costa Mesa?
“There’s really nothing like Costa Mesa; I love, love, love it,” said Beehler. “We’ve lived in this house on the Eastside for sixteen years and our neighborhood has just gotten cuter, each year. Cute streets, cute homes, nice people. Eastside is so easy to get around. We can ride our bikes to the store, the nursery or down to the beach.
“There’s a good energy here and I think the city is going through an evolution. Costa Mesa is having its day. It’s becoming more artsy, more pedestrian-friendly – with more coffee shops, more new restaurants.
“People here are changing up their homes, fixing up their yards – they’re repaving all the streets over here, too. People are getting more adventurous, thinking outside the box and doing fun things with their homes. It’s so fun to be a part of it.” ♥
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