Roots: Her interest in plants may go back to childhood, but Pamela Burton credits a trip to Kyoto during college for her aesthetic. Working on a master’s degree in architecture at UCLA, she created gardens for artist friends in Venice. She opened Pamela Burton & Company in 1975. “Artists have played a huge role in my understanding of what is possible,” says Burton. Her 11-person outfit now collaborates with architectural heavyweights Richard Meier, Maya Lin, John Pawson, Gensler, and Robert Stern. Soft tread: Well before LEED certification existed, Burton advocated native and drought-happy plants. A 200,000-gallon underground cistern fed by rainwater irrigates her gardens at the Santa Monica Public Library. Lasting impression: Whether it’s the meandering sand paths and flowing grasses of a Malibu escape or a dreamy mix of lavender, westringia, dwarf olives, and blue oat grass on a Bel-Air property, Burton’s landscapes seem discovered rather than crafted. “It takes a lot of effort to make something appear effortless,” she says. » 1430 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica, 310-828-6373.
Photograph by Lisa Romerein