It’s safe to say that landscape designer and shopkeeper Molly Wood loves her job. “I am literally living the dream that I had as a young girl in her 20s when I found out that there is a job called landscape designer,” she says. Inspired by garden makers such as Brazilian modernist Roberto Burle Marx, British horticulturist Gertrude Jekyll. and Belgian designer Jacques Wirtz, she quickly learned what plants like which climates, which she was innately drawn to, and grew her business from there with admirable dedication.
Today, she runs Molly Wood Garden Design in Costa Mesa, California, and enjoys designing spaces that function as a reflection of her client’s personal needs. Her designs carry a crisp and clean California design with contrasting textures, and she calls her style contemporary eclectic. In her own home, she often plants ficus, citrus, and lemon trees that attract birds and butterflies, along with African blue basil and Sansevieria, an easy-to-manage low-water species native to Madagascar and Southern Asia.
Meet the Expert
Molly Wood is the founder of Molly Wood Garden Design in Costa Mesa, California, which offers design advice, pottery, plants, and unique garden finds.
For those looking to add greenery to their spaces, Wood has multiple plants that come to mind.
“Start with some plants that are really easy to care for, like Sansevieria or peace lilies," Wood says. "Remember not to overwater, as this is the leading cause of death in house plants Then, pick a cool basket or planter to give your new friend it’s own unique vibe."
Aeonium succulent is a great low-maintenance outdoor plant that is wonderful for cutting and clipping, while the asparagus fern is another one of Wood’s favorites, as it’s quick to grow and very easy to maintain, even for those without a green thumb.
Looking for a high-impact plant for your garden? A rounding shrub like the boxwood globe or a mounding variety of pittosporum is ideal.
If you are looking for something unique, the bromeliad grows well inside and outside and has an interesting center cup. “They grow off trees in nature and don’t even really need soil,” Wood says. “They’re very unique.”
ZZ’s can survive in low light, low humidity, and only need watering every two weeks, and Sansevieria, or snake plants, is one of her favorite plants for interiors.
“It’s architecturally interesting and practically foolproof," Wood says. "I love to style it with pebbles on top and nuzzling a geode or crystal at the bottom. Pair it with a Chinese Money plant, whose round leaves offer a nice contrast to the verticality of Sansevieria.”
While some may think that Sansevieria is a bit dated, as they were popular in the 1970s, they only need to be watered every one to two weeks to maintain a lush appearance. They can grow large and have deep, dark green leaves with an interesting zig-zag texture.
Lastly, moss mounds are a colorful statement-making addition to any home. “They remind me of my childhood growing up in Southern Oregon and exploring the forests,” remarks the landscape designer. The no-maintenance plants look divine in vintage terracotta or stone pots.