Anne-Émilie Gold and her husband, Steve Gold, are partners in Gravel to Gold, Inc. a design-build firm based in San Diego. www.graveltogold.com
With your background as a landscape architect working on large-scale projects, what inspired you to enter the field of residential landscape design?
I honed my skills as a landscape architect for large Seattle-based multidisciplinary firms that included architects, urban designers and planners. My projects were scattered around the nation, including zoo exhibit designs, urban park master plans, visual analyses, highway planning, interpretive design, cultural landscape studies and large multi-family residential developments.
I like to think that my contributions made a positive impact on the land because I was working at such a large scale. Yet after years under fluorescent lights, and often designing landscapes sight unseen, I wanted more from my profession. Or maybe . . . I wanted less: fewer reports and analyses, less CAD and drafting. I wanted to be in the landscape, experience the vegetation, light and wind first hand, and I needed a continuous outlet for artistic expression. I used to design systems and infrastructure with implied aesthetics benefits. Now, with residential garden design, I create beautiful landscapes with implied ecological benefits.
What landscape experiences defined you as a landscape designer?
I was born in France to French-Canadian parents, and we moved back and forth between Paris and Montreal. I am grateful for that duality; it’s made me a more rounded and well-travelled designer. I love the undulating forest landscapes of Québec punctuated by lakes. This wild nature was my solace as a child. I also love the rigor of the French landscapes where not one inch has been left ungroomed. Growing up in France helped me develop a strong intellectual outlook on the world.
These days, I try to blend it all—respecting ecological functions and systems while maintaining a sensibility for order and bold aesthetics.
Do you have a favorite garden? How does it influence your personal design style?
My favorite garden of all time is the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris. A classic French garden, it sprawls in all its royalty at the foot of the Palais du Louvre with exquisite parterres, or planting beds, connected by large decomposed granite alleyways. It’s interspersed by follies, pop-up venues, works of arts, and playgrounds for children. It is a public space, and with its large mature trees, it acts as a green lung for the city.
My friend and mentor, landscape designer Katie Pelisek, referred me to my first San Diego clients. Their Solana Beach home has French country architecture. Imagine my excitement when they agreed with my vision: replacing 17,000 square feet of neglected lawn with a drought-tolerant French garden. It was an unprecedented opportunity for me to bridge my life in California and my cultural background. We planted a field of lavender in the front yard and in the back yard we traversed the planting beds with pea gravel walkways. Around the property we created a native plant buffer to sustain wildlife habitat.
You and your husband founded Gravel to Gold, Inc. What is it like to be in partnership with your husband?
Steve builds most of my projects and has a vested interest in making my designs a success. He has the field know-how that keeps my wild ideas in check, but also respects my ideas and design concepts. He is a talented designer himself, is very detailed oriented, and knows how to stay within a client’s budget.
The truth is we are partners in life first, with two wonderful young children. We love running our own business as it gives us the flexibility to take care of our family.
Do you implement other people’s designs?
Yes we do! Working with Amelia Lima and other members of APLD has raised the bar in the quality of plans that we receive. Steve noticed the consistent professionalism of the Association’s membership.
How has APLD impacted your professional life?
I am proud to be a member, and I can’t thank my district associates enough for being so generous with their time, knowledge and advice. I enjoy partaking in our events and learning how to create successful gardens in San Diego County.
All gardens designed by Anne-Emilie, installed by husband, Steve Gold.
Photo credits: Steve Gold