Ah, the great outdoors. That’s why we’re here, isn’t it? Southern California is one of the few places — perhaps the only place? — in the country where one can live outdoors year-round. (Compare that to my former stomping ground in subtropical Miami, where we had to retreat to an air-conditioned cocoon 10 months out of the year.) 
 
No wonder so many Southern Californians are such whizzes at creating beautiful gardens. Of course, Pasadena has its own peccadilloes when it comes to plants — much of the terrain is rocky and hilly, which can be a gardener’s nightmare. Interior designer Cynthia Bennett grappled with just that problem when she bought her patch of paradise, so she brought in Altadena-born landscape designer Margie Grace, who was well acquainted with the territory. B.J. Lorenzo spoke to both women about the challenges involved in designing a designer’s garden. And Grace offers tips on successful interaction with the area’s flora and fauna. 
 
Ilsa Setziol also gathered expert opinions on our idiosyncratic terrain for her piece on the Los Angeles County Arboretum’s Top 10 list of plants for local gardens. John Seeley scours stores for suggestions of shopping list items for sunny gardeners. And Kitchen Confessions columnist Leslie Bilderback offers a cornucopia of recipes for infusing oils and vinegars with herbs from your own garden — or local store, if you lack a green thumb.  
 
— Irene Lacher