Creating Sustainable Life Environments

    Three and one-half years ago, my life as a fine artist and educator had been one of contribution, fun and freedom. Plants and the environment had always been a passion. Recycling and buying the most planet-friendly supplies for my home and studio were "regular" actions. Supporting environmental organizations was always part of my budget.

    Over time, I became restless and it became more and more important that I use my artistic skills to help "heal the earth." Air and soil pollution and fertilizer run-off is not a legacy that I wish to leave to future generations. My solution was to start with my own property:

    • I created a compost pile, used only non-chemical pest control and feeding.
    • Planted hearty seeds, vines, veggies and flowers.
    • Chose specific plants that absorb toxins from the air and soil. Healthy plants come from healthy soil.
    • I dug my own pond to provide for "wildlife."

    My backyard is now a "Certified Wildlife Habitat" with its own resident Pacific Tree Frog, who found me two years ago. It seems that a creek used to run behind my property and the area was called "Frog Town." Frogs are to the environment what a canary is to the mine. Frogs are disappearing the world over.The appearance of "Mr. Green" was physical proof that I was making a difference. (As I write this, "Mr. Green’s" gentle ribbit seems to voice approval.)

    By the way, my home is located adjacent to the Exxon-Mobil Refinery! Due to wise planting choices, there is no petro-chemical odor in my back yard and no harmful chemical added to the soil.

    My next step was to establish my own alternative Landscape Design company to reach more people. Along with residential and commercial landscapes, I also show those with patios and decks in condos, townhouses, and apartments how to create beautiful, living barriers to the toxins that surround them. I have been busy since establishing my business and even self-publish my GardensByDesign® / EazyBeingGreen® e-zine monthly.

    The city in which I live has very clear planting requirements for commercial landscape planting (low-water usage, native and Mediterranean plants.) The city recently recommended me to a property management company for re-landscaping of a shopping center.

    I have been chosen as landscape designer by the ASID Los Angeles Chapter for the first area, non-profit "Aging In Place" project: remodeling homes for low-income, disabled seniors, making it possible for them to remain in their homes. It will be possible for seniors to have beautiful, low-maintenance, low-water usage landscapes and gardens with no harmful chemicals used.

    Not bad for someone who had barely touched a computer three years ago and thought that she was about to retire!

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    Elaine Wilson is an artist, landscape designer, horticulturist, and published writer. She installed and maintained plants for other companies for 15 years before she established GardensByDesign. She holds a BFA Degree from Arcadia University and did graduate studies at Tyler School of Art, Temple University. Her career in fine art spanned a period of more than 20 years and her work is represented in corporate and private collections. She has made presentations at the Getty and other venues for the Los Angeles Performing Arts Center. Visit or e-mail Copyright © 2007 Elaine Wilson. All rights reserved.



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