Bernard Trainor

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Bernard Trainor

Bernard Trainor

In 1995 Australian-born garden designer Bernard Trainor arrived in California and made it his life’s work to capture the wild soul of California with gardens that celebrate their setting.

Growing up on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, Bernard had been fascinated with landscape while roaming dunes and beaches and observing plants that thrived despite harsh conditions. These deep-rooted experiences created the foundations for his practice. Along the rugged Pacific coast of California, he found echoes of Australia and his gardens now capture much of the living spirit and beauty of California.

A cornerstone of Bernard’s approach is resource conservation. He says ‘I aim to be frugal with design and materials, stripping away ornament, focusing on what’s essential and logical ..seeing how little I can do for the greatest impact.

I came in through horticulture ..hadn’t been exposed to concepts like sustainability, or the genius of the place. I figured them out for myself the hard way – made mistakes – and taught myself along the way.’

Bernard mines the details of each place – its native plants, rocks, soil, climate, topography, architecture, culture and history and conceives contemporary landscapes that belong where they are.

Bernard was a wonderful speaker at our 2007 Conference and many have sought his return. We are in for quite a treat!



Presentation OneDesigning Spaces: with the borrowed landscape or for place, privacy and solitude.

We shall consider the process of designing larger gardens with the broader landscape in mind, particularly gardens with a direct physical and visual relationship with more extensive surroundings.

Such designs are about not messing up what is already there – and finding a connection to the existing, rather than manufacturing place.

We then consider designing smaller mostly urban gardens with a totally different context to the larger rural gardens. These are gardens that have almost no direct physical and visual relationship with natural surroundings and usually require designs to create place, privacy, and solitude – an escape from chaos.


Presentation TwoPlanting Design: thoughtful planting strategies and methods.

Surprisingly, planting design is not always a key component for many design and architecture firms, but Bernard has always treated it as an equal in overall design considerations.

Bernard will demonstrate how he develops thoughtful planting schemes as a vital component of the identity of each garden. Using documentation, maps and images throughout the process, Bernard will reveal how he formulates ideas and arrives at the finished project.



Click on these articles to view the PDF files –

Natural Response: Landscape by Bernard Trainor

San Francisco Cottages and Gardens – April 2014: The Painted Garden