About Joan

As a garden designer, garden coach and freelance garden writer, Joan S. Bolton confesses to a life-long love affair with plants. A native of southern California, she grew up tending her own vegetable garden and house plants.

Joan moved to Santa Barbara County 31 years ago, and has gardened like a fiend ever since. At last count, she and her husband Tom had planted several thousand shrubs, perennials, ground covers and trees on their four-acre property in western Goleta. They also maintain about 25 avocado, citrus and fruit trees, and grow vegetables and herbs year-round.

Joan has been designing South Coast gardens for 17 years and is a member of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers, the national association that establishes and encourages standards of excellence in landscape design. Many of her projects are renovations — her clients have inherited or grown tired of existing, overgrown landscapes and want to start over again. So out go the Bermuda grass, junipers and other bedraggled vegetation, and in come fresh, colorful plantings custom-designed for each client’s special needs and wishes.

Joan also spreads her love of plants through freelance writing. She received her masters degree in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, and has written freelance articles about gardening for 25 years.

An avowed plant nut, she follows the seasons as she shares her observations, experiences, tips and hands-on techniques.

She writes Edible Garden columns for Edible Santa Barbara and Central Coast Farm and Ranch, and contributes to Fine Gardening. She formerly wrote In the Garden features for the Santa Maria Times, Santa Ynez Valley News, Lompoc Record, Times-Press-Recorder, South Coast Beacon and Santa Barbara News-Press. She has been a regular contributor to Woman’s Day’s gardening publications, and has written for Horticulture Magazine, Flower and Garden, Landscape Architecture Magazine, the San Jose Mercury News and Los Angeles Times.

Joan is active in the Santa Barbara County Horticultural Society, and served on the board for four years. She is a long-time member of Garden Writers Association, and regularly attends GWA’s national meetings to learn about the latest trends in gardening and design.

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Visit Joan’s website at

7 Responses to “Even More About Joan”

  1. Jennifer Purdy Says:

    Joan,
    Thanks for including us for your blog. I do have a question. We are getting ready to plan about 6 fruit trees. We want to be sure to the trees that will do well on the Mesa. What types would you suggest for orange and lemon trees?

    Thanks, and happy new year,
    Jennifer Purdy


    1. Hi Jennifer,
      Because you’re right on the coast, Valencia oranges will sweeten up more reliably than Washington navels. Thin-skinned Meyer and Meyer Improved lemons are super juicy. I also grow Pink Lemonade. The lemons don’t produce as much juice, but the tree is quite pretty, as the fruit is striped yellow and green and the leaves are variegated yellow and green.
      As for other citrus — Satsuma tangerines are a runaway favorite at my house. They’re seedless, easy to peel and packed with flavor. Clementine tangerines aren’t quite as sweet, while Dancy bears seeds.
      Good luck!

  2. debra Says:

    Whooo hoooo!
    Congratulations on your blog launch! So nice to see your smiling face here online, Joan. We need to catch up soon ~ a lunch is in order. In the meantime, Happy New Year and I am excited to add you to my blogroll.
    love, Debra

  3. mitch Says:

    great blog Joan!

  4. Marisa Says:

    Stumbled across your blog while researching elfin thyme. Random because I am in utah but from sb! Great post! enjoy your weather! 😉


    1. Thanks, Marisa. And yes, I enjoy our weather (just about) every day!

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