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Isabelle Greene: Botanist, Artist, and Landscape Architect

Articles: Isabelle Greene: Botanist, Artist, and Landscape Architect

Isabelle Greene. Photograph by Leslie Holtzman

Isabelle Greene is one of California’s best known and most innovative landscape architects. Her gardens have been profiled in numerous national publications. Audiences sit enthralled as she lectures about how her designs rise organically from each site. Clients wait up to a year before she can take on their projects. Perhaps we should expect such talent and accomplishment; after all, her grandfather (Henry Mather Greene) and great-uncle (Charles Sumner Greene) paired up to become one of the most influential architectural teams in California history, essentially defining the Craftsman Era in the early 1900s.

Although Greene is one of several contemporary female designers who came to garden design unexpectedly, she was uniquely qualified for her accidental profession. Raised in Pasadena, she recalls hiking with her father at an early age and visiting her grandfather’s house on the edge of the Arroyo Seco. She remembers the arroyo, through the eyes of a three-year-old child, as a “huge, mysterious garden.” Even then, she was taken by the feel and shape of stones...

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