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Landscape Architecture: Coursing Through His Veins

Leland Walmsley’s Design Roots Date Back a Century


It was only a matter of time before Leland Walmsley — a landscape architect specializing in the art and science of designing outdoor spaces for discerning clientele — and his team at everGREEN landscape architects crossed paths with Giffin & Crane. That encounter occurred in 2008 on a comprehensive remodel in Montecito. Since then, they’ve worked together on more than half a dozen projects, from a Tuscan farmhouse residential build to a remodel of the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa.

While Walmsley’s reputation rests with high-end endeavors, he’s not exclusive. He’ll take on 300 square feet as enthusiastically as 300 acres, simply because it’s what he loves to do. Indeed, it’s in his blood.

About a century ago, his grandmother Margaret Sears started practicing landscape architecture at Florence Yoch & Associates in Pasadena. In 1923, she helped create the renowned Italianate garden at the Il Brolino estate in Montecito. She also designed the Ojai Valley Inn’s original gardens and worked on exterior set designs for Gone with the Wind.

These days, in a drought-stricken Southern California, original practices come back into play. “A true estate garden really gets by on very little,” Walmsley said. “My family and I have always practiced cutting-edge, organic, environmentally responsible and green design. Many of my early clients don’t even realize their gardens are eco-sensitive but are enjoying all the benefits: reduced installation and maintenance costs and a healthier environment in which to work, live, and play.”

Born and raised in Pasadena, Walmsley initially studied film, fine art, and marine biology at UCSB in the early and mid-’80s. He graduated from the USC School of Cinema-Television in 1988. For years he worked in Hollywood production design before refocusing on landscape design and architecture. He moved back to Santa Barbara in 2001, earned a graduate certificate for landscape architecture from UCLA a year later, and in 2004 launched everGREEN. In 2007, he distinguished himself as the first certified LEED AP landscape architect in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

That LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification requires that all the heavy hitters of a construction project — general contractor, architect, landscape architect, interior designer, and a variety of engineers, among others — get together early on to carry out the U.S. Green Building Council’s mandate of resource efficiency and environmental responsibility.

“When you get good contractors onboard from the outset, they can engineer-value the project more precisely so that clients don’t get sticker shock,” Walmsley said. That’s good for the billfold, he added, and good for the build.

Giffin & Crane General Contractors, Inc. has been building custom homes in Santa Barbara since 1986.

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