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2016 - The Art of Pruning Garden Tour - Gardens of Marin County

The second APA garden tour, October 2, 2016,  featured gardens of Marin County, which are beautifully and expertly pruned by APA Certified Aesthetic Pruners Leslie Buck, Bill Castellon, Grant Foerster, Yuki Nara, Ghislain de Taillandier, and Dan Villaume. The borrowed scenery of Marin’s oak woodlands, coast redwood and evergreen forests, and sparkling Bay vistas were the context for these APA Certified Aesthetic Pruners who interpret and render meaningful and evocative the gardens’ woody landscapes.

Everyone had a wonderful time and took full advantage of asking certified aesthetic pruners about their techniques and process in each garden. Informal presentations by the certified aesthetic pruners and docents provided insights into the garden design elements and horticultural considerations for pruning.


Maureen and Mark are avid gardeners. They originally thought they would create a Mediterranean garden. Then they met Yuki Nara, APA Certified Aesthetic Pruner and landscape designer. In 2000, Yuki turned a slope of dirt and weed into a verdant Japanesque landscape. 

Mark feels that “watching the garden grow has been one of the highlights of living in this house.” Yuki prunes the Japanese maples and black pine, camellias and weeping cherry. Dan Villaume, APA Certified Aesthetic Pruner and ISA certified arborist, prunes the birch.  Although it is a front yard garden on a main road, it is easy to lose yourself among the textures, colors and the play of light through the leaves along the curving paths and changing elevations.


Nestled in the chaparral hills of Larkspur, Sarah and Michael’s garden wonderfully demonstrates how California native flora combines beautifully with non-natives, in a context of contemporary California architecture and landscape design.  The garden was installed in 2015 by Garden Architecture of Berkeley and is pruned by APA Certified Aesthetic Pruner Yuki Nara. The simple, clean lines and strong geometric shape of Sarah’s home and garden hardscape throws into relief the myriad textures and unique forms of the trees and shrubs, brought to life by Yuki. 

Yuki prunes all the ornamental trees and shrubs, California natives, Mediterranean species and, of course, the many Japanese maples. Yuki specializes in pruning Japanese maples and Sarah loves Japanese maples. Eight of the garden’s maples were brought from the Cooney’s previous home as container plants and were originally purchased at Momiji Nursery in Santa Rosa. 


Linda and Tom Chauncey’s garden surrounds this original Larkspur home, built in 1895, and artfully combines historic and contemporary landscape aesthetics. The garden has been skillfully pruned by APA Certified Aesthetic Pruner Grant Foerster for 10 years. Grant prunes a variety of plant material here including birch trees, camellias, maple, fig, persimmon, and tea trees.  

To the left of the deck, a venerable old holly tree, although huge, feels light and airy. The vintage champagne bottles at its base are engagement party souvenirs from the previous owner’s daughter, installed in 1958. Historical details are important to Linda, a volunteer of the Larkspur Heritage Preservation Board and copy editor of the book Larkspur Past and Present: A History and Walking Guide.  

The back garden, installed in 2005-2006, combines gabion stone wall terracing and a contemporary interpretation of a trio of birch trees with the rustling of bamboo and a sense of wilderness from a naturalized hillside.


Surrounded by redwood trees, the gardens of Phil and Clara Hinderberger, are serene in the extreme. The front garden’s Japanese maples, pruned by Mike Umehara of Momiji Nursery in Santa Rosa, shelter camellias, dogwood and other shade loving plants which were once pruned by Leslie Buck, an APA Certified Aesthetic Pruner.  The back garden abutting the creek running through Warner Canyon was designed by Bill Castellon, a garden designer and APA aesthetic pruner. 

Both Clara and Phil are avid gardeners. Clara belongs to the Mill Valley Outdoor Art Club and Phil belongs to the Marin Master Gardener Pruning Guild.  Clara works in the flower garden, enjoying the colors, foliage textures, and light in the garden. Phil and Bill worked on the back garden installation together and Phil prunes and maintains the back garden conifers, maples and natives under Bill’s guidance.


A magnificent California incense cedar and the summit of Mt. Tam frame the lush gardens of Barbara and Warren Levinson. Barbara is a Marin master gardener and member of the American Conifer Society. Stroll through the garden; her passion for conifers is everywhere evident along the several paths and myriad recesses along the way. 

Michael Alliger was the garden’s original APA Certified Aesthetic Pruner. Presently, APA Certified Aesthetic Pruner Ghislain de Taillandier, assisted by Marin master gardener and APA member Kathryn Randolph, give the conifers, Japanese maples and other species their artful form and place in the garden context.  Bill Castellon has just completed a new Japanesque garden in an area formerly occupied by a swimming pool.

We gratefully acknowledge our sponsors - Thank you!

Black Pine sponsors ($200 and above)

North American Japanese Garden Association www.najga.org

American Conifer Society www.conifersociety.org

Japanese Maple sponsors ($100-$200)

Hida Tool & Hardware Co., Berkeley CA. www.hidatool.com

The Urban Farmer Store, San Francisco, Mill Valley, Richmond CA . www.urbanfarmerstore.com

P.O. Box 5163, Berkeley, CA 94705


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