Like the landscapes she designs, Isabelle Greene is an amalgamation of equally important influences: the Arroyo Seco landscapes of her youth, the design heritage of her grandfather Henry Mather Greene and grand-uncle Charles Sumner Greene, her education and early career as a botanist and illustrator, and finally her designs as a landscape architect. Similarly, Greene’s gardens fuse her clients’ tastes, inspired engineering, the surrounding environment, and a keen sense of the immutable qualities of nature itself.
“Designing a garden is all about movement,” explains Isabelle. “Never does a garden arrive — it is forever becoming. Time is the factor which renders to the garden its special character. There are also weighty elements: craggy, eternal things like rocks; earthy things like tractors, imponderable things like ‘regulatory bodies’... And there are also the gossamer, unpredictable overlays: frost, reflections, shadows, dews. The interplay among these different spectrums provides a garden’s intense richness.”
Isabelle nurtures a particular passion for southern California landscapes, originally engendered by family camping trips when she was a child. Her respect for the lay of the natural landscape informs even her most highly crafted designs — if there is no water element, she might, for example, create a ‘stream’ of flagstones to punctuate the contours or lead the eye subconsciously from one space to another. Textures, as well as shapes and colors, inspire her designs, and found objects often become part of her palette as well.
An artist of nature, Isabelle has an almost mystical connection to her work. “Final outcomes,” she notes,” are a glimpse into meanings far beneath the surface and far beyond our consciousness. They let the visitor in on secrets that are so satisfying, they needn’t even be comprehended.”