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Meet Our Community: Maya Bartolf, secret-garden seeker and blogger at Flowers and Grapes

Let’s get to know each other!

Since we’re not able to meet up in person this year, let’s meet online. Every week we’re introducing a member of our Fling community* here and on Instagram, in their own words. We’re excited to see what everyone’s talking about and sharing with their followers!

(*Any garden blogger, vlogger, podcaster, or Instagrammer who follows our Instagram or is a member of our Facebook group. If you’d like to be considered or recommend someone for a Meet Our Community profile, email us.)

Maya Bartolf

“Honey Bee,” one of my favorite arrangements for its rustic farm vibe

I live in San Rafael, California, gateway to the wine country of Northern California. Like so many during the Covid-19 lockdown, I’ve experienced the loss of loved ones, loss of a job (as an education tech consultant), and the absence of some of the simple joys of daily life I took for granted. My blog, Flowers and Grapes, is a creative endeavor that’s reconnected me to my garden and flower communities while living in isolation with my husband as new empty-nesters.

Each day I look for poetry to feed my soul. I’ve begun to see it everywhere in the garden, trees, and surrounding hills. I’ve also found it in family, friendships, art, books, movies, and culture. Beauty is everywhere. Seeing the world through nature and culture nourishes my creativity and hope.

I love abundant, romantic, and whimsical secret gardens. The unexpected and a sense of time, theater, and intimacy are hallmarks of gardens that I seek out in my travels – like the small, poetic garden I visited at the back of the Fortuny factory showroom in Venice, with ivy-covered walls, grapes, roses, and even a pool.

My garden in the fall

In my first career I was an art historian and curator, and that background still inspires me as a self-taught gardener. In a second career as a designer, I launched Today’s Bouquet, a boutique floral design business using heirloom flowers from my garden. Unfortunately I had to pivot away from this dreamy career because of the challenges of ongoing drought as well as family demands.

My garden is a small suburban cottage garden at the edge of the Lucas Valley Watershed. I garden densely because of limited space and love an abundance of colorful flowers. However I’m transitioning to the realities of my summer-dry climate, where rain comes mainly in winter and temperatures can exceed 100 F in summer. Inspired by Saxon Holt and his important new book, Gardening in Summer-Dry Climates, I’m integrating more climate-appropriate plants into my garden.

With this transition, I’m discovering the beauty of native and drought-tolerant plants and plan to write more about sustainable gardening. I also enjoy connecting with the garden blogging community and learning from other gardeners and flower fanatics. I dream of a Garden Bloggers Fling in the California wine country. Wine, gardens, and the extraordinary fellowship of our blogging community – perfect pairings!


Thanks for sharing your work and gardening passions with us, Maya! You can follow Maya on her blog, Flowers and Grapes, and on Instagram and Facebook.

Photographs courtesy of Maya Bartolf.


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