Big Ideas for Small Spaces

Authors Isa Bird Hendry Eaton and Jennifer Blaise Kramer Discuss Small Garden Style

Gardens are magical in any season, but during this seemingly endless season of COVID-19’s “sheltering in place” restrictions, there’s never been a better time to have a garden to escape to in Santa Barbara.

No matter how much space you have to work with, authors Isa Bird Hendry Eaton (a landscape designer) and Jennifer Blaise Kramer (a lifestyle writer) have collaborated on a book that’s here to help. Small Garden Style: A Design Guide for Outdoor Rooms and Containers is an excellent resource to help you create a design framework to bring your garden dreams to life.

“It’s all about being really encouraging, really accessible no matter what size space you have,” said Eaton. “Even if you’re doing just a couple containers by your front door or your porch, everyone deserves to have a little garden in their home, and why not make it something that really feels like you and bring your individual aesthetic?”

A key component of the book is helping you figure out what your individual aesthetic is. There’s a really fun quiz that kick-starts the book with a series of questions that help you define your style. Are you a Clean Minimalist who starts your morning routine with black coffee and a cold shower? Or is your style more Bold Eclectic, with a black leather Eames lounge chair as your favorite place to relax at home? Perhaps Organic Modern is more your vibe if your ideal mode of transportation is hiking shoes, as you head for the mountains. Or is it a Jeep Wagoneer with wood paneling that reflects your New Traditional style?

“Then we walk you through these different gardens,” said Eaton, acknowledging that many have crossover styles. “We take you through the design framework behind how to put a container together, how to design an outdoor room, so you can understand the design theory behind doing a really dramatic container.”

By the time you’re at the nursery picking plants, the vast choices are not so overwhelming.

“It’s like a little mini design school for the reader,” said Eaton.

The authors embarked on the project when they wouldn’t find another garden-meets-design book. “We wanted this to feel like a design book for your outdoors,” said Kramer. Her own garden was designed by Eaton, who focuses on layering. “But not just in a pot and not just in a garden,” said Kramer. “It’s the whole look, it’s the whole room, and it’s thinking about your outdoor space just like you would your indoor space.”

Their goal was to make the book be “fun and beautiful and inspirational, but also very practical and useful,” said Eaton. “A container is a miniature garden; it’s the best place to start. There’s a little bit of trial and error. Read the book, then go to the nursery on Saturday morning and try it out — you don’t have to start designing the entire garden; you can start with a couple of containers. Now’s a great time to plant!”

Small Garden Style can be purchased at Chaucer’s Books (3321 State St.) or

Stay at Home and Garden, special issue of SB Independent May 14, 2020.

This story was originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 14, 2020. Click here to read it as it appeared in print.

Garden Plots

Gardens Books feature from 805 Living Magazine, Spring 2020. Two recently released books aim to celebrate and galvanize the gardening ambitions of 805-region residents.

Private Gardens of Santa Barbara: The Art of Outdoor Living (Gibbs Smith, 2020) by landscape designer Margie Grace of Grace Design Associates (, offers an intimate look at 18 distinctive gardens set on the grounds of large estates, modest homes, and surf retreats, including Grace’s own secret garden, which she affectionately dubs “Lotusland South,” after her storied Montecito neighbor.

“Coffee table books for me can be a three minute vacation that refreshes,” says Grace, who hopes her new book will offer just that to readers. With beautiful photography by Holly Lepere, the book is also packed with inspiration and takeaways for sustainable home garden designs with all-important water-conscious, maintenance-friendly, and fire-safety priorities in mind.

“We are starved for beauty in nature,” says Grace. “If we can get a little dose every day, we just feel better.”

For those with big garden dreams and small spaces in which to realize them, Small Garden Style: A Design Guide for Outdoor Rooms and Containers (Ten Speed Press, 2020) may prove to be an invaluable resource.

“We couldn’t find a garden meets-design book,” says Santa Barbara–based writer Jennifer Blaise Kramer, who co-authored the realistic take on fashioning gardens with Isa Hendry Eaton of Isa Bird Landscape Design (

The book starts with a fun quiz to help readers determine their small-garden style.

“Everyone deserves to have a little garden in their home,” says Eaton. “Why not make it something that really feels like you by bringing your individual aesthetic?”

The variety of ways to bring your own unique style to your garden are lovingly documented by local photographer Leela Cyd.

“We really wanted it to be fun and inspirational but also very practical and useful,” says Eaton. “A container is a miniature garden; it’s the best place to start.”

805 Living Spring 2020Click here to read this story as it appeared in 805 Living magazine 805 Living Pulse April 2020