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Kathryn Mathewson Associates






Kathryn Jane Mathewson earned her B.A. in Biology from Principia College in Illinois and her Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley. Her gardens are nationally recognized for quality design, environmental sensitivity, plant biodiversity and health, craftsmanship, detail, and are pesticide free.

Before starting her own company, Mathewson had many experiences outside her childhood home of the San Francisco Bay Area. She worked for various governmental organizations, including the National Park Service, California Parks Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Oakland Housing Authority. She helped to develope and taught courses in the Landscape Architecture Department at City College in New York City. She also worked for the well-know urban landscape architect, Paul Friedberg. In Singapore she worked in various design capacities for the Singapore government, the American Embassy and on the Singapore Polytechnic Master Plan. Her experience as construction coordinator for San Francisco's Pier 39, a complex with 22 restaurants, 110 specialty shops, a marina, a park and amusement center, demonstrated her capacity to combine construction, design, and maintenance. In 1979 she began her own design/build garden company.

Her company’s clients include George Lucas, Monrovia Nursery, various Napa Valley Vineyards, several Nobel Prize winners, a courtyard at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, a convent, a houseboat complex, children’s gardens, and several shopping centers. She has also designed and built gardens in Santa Barbara, Fresno, Napa and Sonoma Valleys and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Her Secret Gardens have appeared in Ortho and Sunset books, Sunset Magazine, Landscape Architecture, Designer's Illustrated, Northern California Home and Garden, Garden Design, Flower and Garden Magazine, Women's Day, Lawn and Landscape and the major San Francisco Bay Area newspapers. ABC's "Good Morning America" featured her on its nationally televised special on environmental gardening. American Nurseryman and the Silicon Valley Metro ran cover stories about her. She has been featured in the San Jose Mercury News, Landscape Architecture Forum, Principia Purpose, and American Nurseryman. Mathewson has written many articles for "Landscape News", the American Horticulturist, the Silicon Valley Business Journal, the Rose Garden Resident, and the San Jose Mercury News. She often presents environmental topics to the San Jose and Santa Clara City Councils and the Sierra Club Loma Prieta Chapter Board.

She has lectured at the Perennial Plant Association, Rodale Institute, the California Horticulture Society, the American Association of Nurserymen's Management Clinic, the Western Horticultural Society, Strybing Arboretum, Santa Barbara Botanical Garden, the University of California Landscape Architecture Department, Principia College, professional environmental groups like the Ecological Landscape Association, environmental groups like Acterra (Action for a Sustainable Earth), the Ecological Farm Conference, the National Colonial Farm, Garden Clubs throughout the United States, and school garden programs.

She was keynote speaker at Mississippi State's annual garden seminar and was invited to participate in a Master Plan charette for the American Horticultural Society’s headquarters on the Potomac River. She also was invited to participate in the United States Department of Agriculture’s Workshop to determine their five year research plan. She is the co-founder of the VIVA Foundation (Valley Initiative for Values in Urban Agriculture and Horticulture), Friends of BAREC (www.friendsofbarec.org) and SaveBAREC (www.savebarec.org). Her own garden has been on an organic farm tour as well as on a historic home and garden tour.

Her awards include several National Landscape Association Superior Garden Awards, the 1991 Northern California Xeriscape Conference Residential Garden Award, a National Endowment for the Arts grant and several gardens at the San Francisco Garden Show. She developed the American Garden Awards program and designed its brochure. In 1997 she became the first woman president of the National Landscape Association, the landscape division of the American Nursery and Landscape Association, the oldest green industry organization in the United States.

More about our services

Contact us!  1698 Hanchett Avenue,
San Jose, CA 95128
Phone : 408 292 9595


© Kathryn Mathewson Associates and Secret Gardens 1979-2008