Carol Bornstein, now a Central California garden designer, was for years director of horticulture of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. The heart-stoppingly beautiful meadow there is her work. In 1976, David Fross co-founded Native Sons Nursery in the Central Coast city of Arroyo Grande and has since been the Johnny Appleseed of dry gardening. Bart O'Brien, for years director of horticulture at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont, now its special projects director, is among the most knowledgeable plantsmen in the country. Once, when interviewing a homeowner by phone, I mentioned that O'Brien was outside, and she screamed, as if he were not one but all four Beatles, straight from Liverpool.
There are as many reasons for this reaction as there are microclimates in California. The most important is that as the need for more durable plants and more sustainable garden practices has steadily increased during the last three decades, these three people have been at every turn with solutions for our state.