Brandon Tyson in Sausalito


Connected to San Francisco by the Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito is protected from the marine winds of the Pacific by the Marin headlands. Tendrils of fog never quite reach the tumbling gardens overlooking the bay.

Recently while strolling Sausalito’s many pedestrian footpaths, a resident affirmed the area  has seven different micro-climates.  In a section of Sausalito with verdant, old gardens referred to as “The Banana Belt”,   landscape designer Brandon Tyson has matched the Bohemian verve of the place with a garden for Linda Hothem that combines original plant combinations, playful topiary and commissioned art.

A terraced slope secured by rock walls is planted in a  color story of orange and white. Vivid Calceolaria
“Kentish Hero” and mounds of Cuphea “Strybing Sunset” are contrasted with the fresh Iris “Frequent flyer”


In a corner of the garden, white flowering  and grey foliage plants predominate such as the fragrant Dianthus arenarius.


Pathways of mellow granite slabs are interplanted with Scotch moss Sagina subulata,
Acorus gramineus and black mondo grass Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrecens’. Inky black grape
seed mulch (used throughout the garden) sets off the striking composition.
Restrained, dark colored borders backed by clipped hedges featuring Iris ‘Superstition’ with the black foliage
of Anthriscus ‘Ravenswing’ are on one side of the central lawn. Paired Japanese maples Acer palmatum disectum
‘Crimson Queen’ underplanted with  Echeveria ‘Afterglow’ add bronze accents flanking the steps to the lower garden.

Topiary, currently enjoying a resurgence in contemporary European gardens, add delight
and whimsy. A pair of signature topiary turtles command the central lawn. Equipped with
night spotlighting, the turtles are underplanted with Acorus sp. and black grapeseed mulch.


Espaliered trees in pots screen a sunny terrace.

Comissioned works of art by artist Marsha Donohue reinforces the gardens themes and adds enrichment.



Assured, innovative, and with a great spirit of fun, this is a garden which has much to do with the happy collaboration of those involved and the spirit of the region.