Inspired Garden: Colette & Daniel

Benicia, CA


Our “Der Biergarten,” German for “The Beer Garden,” is aptly named for its use as a space for gatherings with family and friends. The name is somewhat an homage to Daniel’s Omi (a German term of affection for grandmother) who was from Munich, Germany. The garden design inspiration mostly came from French formal and free form gardens, inspired by Colette’s travels through France. The group from Sustainable Solano greatly helped with the inspiration and layout of the design by providing layout and plant suggestions that focused on companion planting, meaning plants that work well being planted together as well as bee attractants, an extremely important factor for pollination.

Sustainable Solano’s 2020 Land & Water Caretakers class met with Colette and Daniel for their final design project to offer suggestions for the garden. The process involved meeting with the Colette and Daniel, researching and drawing up plans and presenting the design elements. Below is a slideshow from that project.

2020 Caretakers Design Project

Action Taken

On the side of the house we created a potager, also known as a French kitchen garden. The potager only consists of plants that are edible, such as herbs, lamb’s ear (which has a combination taste of pineapple and apples and can be used in salads or as a medicinal herb), cherry tomatoes, a blueberry bush, peppers, passion fruit, chard and more. The idea behind the potager was to create a space that one could walk through and eat straight from the plant, find garnishes for food or even cocktails! 

Next to the potager we created a vegetable garden. This garden consists of root vegetables, such as beets and carrots, as well as other vegetables like tomatoes (brandywine, pineapple and purple russian), zucchini, yellow squash and pumpkins. Behind the pumpkins we have acorn squash, a raspberry bush and volunteer cherry tomatoes. Eventually we want this section of the garden to emulate a French formal garden and plan to create stone raised beds that are waist high as well as a matching formal pond.

Following the same path from the vegetable garden, the landscape turns into a space that was inspired by a free form French flower garden. We wanted this space to feel wild with flowers and to be able to use it as a cut flower garden. So far, we have morning glory, hydrangeas, hollyhocks, alyssum and lavender, with a fig tree tucked behind that was planted by the previous house owner.

The entire garden is on a drip system and is covered in wood chips. The wood chips help the efficiency of water use and mulches the soil. We’ve found that the wood chips have greatly improved the soil and growth of the plants.

We tried to use as many recycled materials as possible. The pavers used as pathways are mostly ones we already owned from our last home, the wood chips are from a tree company (many tree companies will deliver loads for free), and we found the bricks on Facebook Marketplace for free.

Since the vegetable garden is seasonal, we are taking advice from the team at Sustainable Solano in planting clover and beans in the winter to help the soil nutrition.

In the front yard we tried to incorporate as many drought tolerant plants as possible, since we couldn’t easily run a drip line to the plants on the other side of the sidewalk. So far with the help of the mulch, the plants have needed very little water and are growing rapidly.

Most of the garden was started from seed. We started planting in March 2020 and have since seen it flourish. Thank you to the group from Sustainable Solano for the education, resources and inspiration to create Der Biergarten!

Inspired Garden Slideshow

Inspired Garden: Colette & Daniel

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