The Personal Meadow We All Need For Daily Mental Health Breaks


Highlights of the garden include meandering meadow paths, water features evocative of the property’s agricultural roots—like a trough-inspired reflecting pool —and draught-tolerant cactuses and succulents.

Upon visiting his clients’ Woodside, California, property—a former equestrian farm with the beaten down dirt to prove it—landscape architect James Lord’s mission became immediately clear. First, nurse the land back to health. Second, reestablish a thriving meadow. Along the way, plans for a dreamy patchwork of soft rush, little bluestem and silvergrass bound by beds of lavender and salvaged 150-year-old olive trees began to materialize. To best enjoy the bounty, Lord, alongside partners Roderick Wylie and Geoff di Girolamo from Surfacedesign, Inc, envisioned a series of crushed gravel footpaths undulating through the meadow like a soft breeze.

Beyond providing the clients with their own parklike setting for daily strolls, the exuberant plant life has prompted the husband, a tech industry executive, to embrace time-lapse photography, documenting such ephemera as the unfurling of cactus flowers and the meadow’s abundant seed pods, which shift from silky-threaded orbs to sculptural heads throughout the seasons. This luxuriant slowing, Lord believes, is imperative to mental health. “We blab on about the benefits of biophilia, but it’s all true! The alpha waves are going crazy when you’re out in nature,” he says. “This garden is curated with a spirit of delightment and discovery, but there’s great calmness to it, too. It’s a world of its own.”