Nice to meet you. I’m Karen Schwartz, the designer behind Calendula Garden Design. I started designing landscapes as a way to channel my creative energy and love for plants, color and design into a vocation where I can help people create gardens they love. My design background started with a degree in apparel design and a career developing clothing and textiles. By working with fabrics, I developed a skill for combining colors, textures and forms into pleasing compositions – a skill I now apply to creating gardens.
I’ve been an avid gardener since sowing my first seed in Portland in 1996. Since then I’ve nurtured a large collection of plants in my garden, which I regard as a laboratory for learning which plants are keepers. The best way to know a plant is to grow it. Unfortunately, there are limits to how many plants one property can hold, so I’ve also maintained plants in other gardens around Portland; and I’ve learned a lot by studying horticulture at Clackamas Community College, organic gardening through OSU Master Gardeners, and landscape design at Portland Community College. I stay current by being involved with the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon and the Association of Northwest Landscape Designers.
My experience sourcing plants for a retail nursery and volunteering with Hardy Plant Society has acquainted me with the best wholesale and retail nurseries in our area and introduced me to a broad palette of plants. I love being a plant detective for my customers and knowing where to find obscure plants.
I can create gardens of all types and find inspiration in any theme.
In my own garden, I’ve focused on ornamental edibles, drought tolerant
selections, dwarf conifers and plants that attract beneficial insects
and birds. When I am not in the garden, I love cooking from scratch,
exploring wild places in Oregon, and hanging out with my husband Chris
and our menagerie of pets.