Dig Into the Potential Of Your Outdoor Spaces With This Book on Gardening

Photo by Caitlin Atkinson. Reprinted with permission from Garden Wonderland by Leslie Bennett & Julie Chai, copyright © 2024

A garden can be so much more than a backyard sitting area or a place with plants in the ground. Many of us think of our outdoor spaces in the simplest of terms — such as low-maintenance, native, flower or veggie gardens — that have been popularized by magazines and makeover shows. But these skip over a garden’s true potential for impacting our lives for the better. In fact, with a little intention our gardens can be shaped into what I think of as real-life wonderlands — that is, places where we can grow our relationship with plants, experience awe-inspiring beauty, attune with nature and the seasons, and integrate a sense of abundance that inspires creativity and sharing — all while remembering and choosing the stories we tell about who we are and how we belong. Simply put, our gardens can be where we find more connected, inspired and grounded versions of ourselves.

After more than 15 years of garden designing and tending here in the S.F. Bay Area with my design-build business, Pine House Edible Gardens, I’ve learned so much about how to make gardens that truly support our lives, also that achieving a landscape that you can nurture, and that nurtures you in return, is about using plants to support an immersive experience where inspiration, connection, belonging, and new ways of being can unfold.

Our new book, Garden Wonderland, focuses on four key lessons: how to make plants part of your daily life, how to surround yourself with beauty, how to make space for connection and how to fortify your sense of belonging. In broad strokes, it outlines Pine House Edible Gardens approach for creating your own garden wonderland, from big-picture concepts to more step-by-step tasks, then invites you to wander through 19 lush gardens that can provide inspiration for your own. Together, these wonderlands show a broad perspective of how people are finding their connections, and themselves, in their front yards and backyards and offer views of how gardens can be as meaningful and unique as each of us. You’ll see how life-changing these gardens are and how you can achieve this for yourself too.

Evergreen Edibles to Plant Right Now

Food is the driving force behind most Pine House gardens so we always make space in the landscape for evergreen edibles to help provide visual structure in the landscape through every month as well as give our clients tasty seasonal harvests. Here are some of our favorites you might want to plant in your own garden this spring!

  • Dwarf myrtle (Myrtus communis “Nana”), which has edible berries and leaves
  • Dwarf culinary bay laurel (Laurus nobilis Little Ragu)
  • Loquat
  • Meyer lemon
  • Pineapple guava (Feijoa sellowiana)
  • “Sunshine Blue” blueberries


Excerpted from Garden Wonderland (Ten Speed Press) by Leslie Bennett and Julie Chai

cover of Garden Wonderland
Reprinted with permission from Garden Wonderland by Leslie Bennett & Julie Chai, copyright © 2024. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.

Leslie Bennett is the owner of Oakland-based Pine House Edible Gardens and co-author of Garden Wonderland and The Beautiful Edible Garden. She is a winner of the American Horticultural Society’s Landscape Design Award, has been named to the Elle Decor A-List of top international designers and is on Oprah’s list of Top 50 Black Visionaries.

Julie Chai is a garden writer and editor and co-author of Garden Wonderland. She is the editor of the New York Times bestselling Floret Farm’s A Year in Flowers, Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden and Floret Farm’s Discovering Dahlias.