Bernard Trainor’s landscapes look as though they were in place long before the structures they were grown to complement. Rich carpets of grasses, bushes and succulents undulate over the terrain and around stone walls, offering shades of gray, glaucous, rich green like rosemary, gray green like the manzanita native coastal scrub, gold, lavender and the light green of emerging leaves.
“One client asked me if I ever did flowers,” Trainor says, laughing. “I’m such a nut for foliage and forms and textures.” A Trainor landscape does bloom, but quietly and fleetingly. Which is not to say there aren’t flowers. Paul Fisher, a retired Chicago real estate investor who has a home on Pfeiffer Ridge in Big Sur, says of his Trainor landscape, “Things are blooming all summer long.” And sometimes in the winter. Trainor particularly values the native toyon bush, which has bright green new leaves, dark green older leaves, clumps of small white flowers in early spring and red berries after that. Above: A view of the landscape around the Pfeiffer Ridge private residence in Big Sur, California which Trainor recently helped to restore.
“When I have clients come from the Northeast or the Midwest, I think lilacs are the thing they miss the most,” Trainor says. He responds with what is called the California lilac (ceanothus), which thrives in dry climates and has a scent, though not as strong as a French lilac. He also loves a particular yarrow (Achillea millefolium Sonoma Coast) that hugs the ground with mounds of white flowers. Above: Pfeiffer Ridge residence in Big Sur, California, after Trainor’s landscape restoration.