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Bring the Outside In, Thanks to Gary Fredricks

Written By: Dr. Paula Trimble-Familetti
Photographed By: Bianca Simonian Gary Fredricks Landscape

Expert: Gary Fredricks Landscape
Credentials: Owner, Gary Fredricks Landscape Design

The eye of this artist paints beautiful outdoor rooms and gardens with plants as his paintbrush. Gary Fredricks has turned a passion for the beauty of nature into an award winning landscape architectural business.

Q: Your designs are breathtaking. What inspires you? What is your design process?

Gary Fredricks: Thank you! It is the same as anything else that has to do with art. If I see something that resonates powerfully with me, whether it is a plant, an artifact, a garden composition or a wild landscape, I’ll photograph it, sometimes with a camera and sometimes just in my head and if I’m lucky enough to have the opportunity to replicate it in my work, I will.

Q: Tell us how your passion for landscape design affects your role in the community?

GF: No matter where I am living, I try somehow to be involved in the aesthetics of my community. I just completed a three-year term as a member of the Architectural Advisory Committee for the city of Palm Springs. I’m currently on the board of directors and the landscape committee for my homeowner’s association.

Q: You earned a Bachelor of Arts and planned to pursue Environmental Studies in Santa Barbara. Did you pursue that degree and how has that influenced your work?

GF: I never finished. At the time I was doing gardening jobs on the side. These became my passion. I went through hundreds of landscape and gardening books. I took several landscape architecture courses at UCLA. What filled in the gap for me was onsite experience, learning from the other professionals I worked for and with.

Q: You have designed gardens for homes ranging from Craftsman Bungalows, Palm Springs Movie Colony, Mediterranean Country and many other architectural styles. How does the architectural style of a home influence your design of the garden?

GF: Architecture influences my design more than anything else. If it is good architecture it accurately represents a sense of place that I can play off of. A certain period and associated style can be carried out into the garden. Even mediocre architecture can be greatly improved by an impactful landscape.

Q: You have designed gardens for homes from many different climates. How does the climate influence your design?

GF: Climate determines the plant palette I can work with. It also sets the tone for how and how often the outside space is used. Is it purely a garden space or will it be used for recreation, dining, entertaining, etc?

Q: Your work has been featured in some very prestigious magazines. Would you tell us about some of those projects?

GF: Well, one of them was my own home in Santa Barbara. A lot of time, effort and love went into the garden there. I was happy to be able to share the result with so many people via House & Garden. Another project was done with a client who became a very close friend. We both share a passion for George Washington Smith houses. While she set about restoring her house, I worked on restoring the grounds, which were originally designed by Lockwood de Forest Jr., a renowned landscape designer from the early 1900s. It was a lot of fun and we were both very pleased with the results of our efforts. That project was featured in Architectural Digest.

Q: You seem to have a gift for creating outdoor living spaces that incorporate indoor space and natural surroundings. How did that evolve?

GF: After my first time visiting English gardens, I was particularly struck by how many were organized into garden rooms. I was impressed how the transition from one room to the next dramatically increased the visual impact of each room. That impression stayed with me and still influences much of my work. Also, studying the work of Frederick Law Olmsted and the emphasis he placed on the experience of moving through a landscape.

Q: What fun facts can you share with us about your work?

GF: Ellen DeGeneres showed her house on her TV show. She is strolling through an alley of potted olive trees I placed outside. She was picking dollar bills off them and calling them her money tree.

Shhhh! After a completed project, Fredricks found out that Joan Rivers was a prospective buyer, so he and his employee hid in a bedroom closet hoping to hear some of her famous wit.

Hot Spots: Fredricks’ favorite place to eat is Jake’s Palm Springs, and his favorite place to grab a drink is The Tropicale.

Time Off: When he isn’t working, Fredricks likes to travel and see other gardens. He also loves to visit family in New York and catch up on theaters and museums.

Gary Fredricks Landscape Design
401 S El Cielo Rd, Ste 129
Palm Springs, CA 92262
805.689.8473

Photoshoot Location:
KBC by Benjamin Sullivan
73-790 El Paso
Palm Desert, CA 92260
760.864.8522 Gary Fredricks Landscape