Garden Masters Judges

Each year the San Diego Horticultural Society invites a panel of judges for the garden displays who are experts in their fields of design and horticulture. This year the panel includes:

Steve Gerisher

Pacific Horticulture Society

Steve Gerischer, an award winning landscape designer, teacher, and former president of the Southern California Horticulture Society, has been gardening locally since childhood. He has appeared on HGTV’s ‘Landscaper’s Challenge (where his was the design chosen and installed) and formerly worked and lectured at Smith & Hawken in Beverly Hills, and Hortus, in Pasadena. He now divides his time between creating landscapes with his company, Larkspur Garden Design, and lecturing on a wide variety of topics relating to gardening in Southern California. Current motto: “Get rid of the lawn”

Current teaching assignments: Beginning Gardening and Landscaping for the Homeowner (Tri-Community Classes-Covina Valley Adult Education) The Seasonal Gardener at The Arboretum and Botanic Garden of Los Angeles

Past Lecture Topics: Containers for the Mediterranean Garden (Gardening under Med. Skies Symposium, 2004) Hypertufa Pots and Troughs (Arboretum/Descanso/SOKA) Rose Pruning and Care (Various) Designing with Foliage-Form and Texture (Greystone LA Garden Show/Arboretum etc.) Orchid Care, Topiary, Bulbs (Spring and Summer), Bareroot Plants, Pest Control (Organic Methods), Organic Gardening, Getting Rid of Your Lawn- All for Smith & Hawken (1994-1997), Hortus (1997-2000), Arboretum, Covina Valley Adult, Descanso etc. (2000 to present)

Nate Magnusson

Nate Magnusson has over a decade of experience in landscape architecture. His work includes residential facilities, parks, commercial/industrial projects, and urban landscape design.

Mr. Magnusson has extensive experience in project management, production, graphics, drafting, site design, layout design, grading, cost estimation, and construction details. He has managed numerous private and public projects in Southern California, including the ongoing Civita Park project which includes nearly 17 acres of parks and over 40 acres of open space, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, Ariva Apartments, and the Maple Street Pedestrian Plaza in Escondido.

Mr. Magnusson is President of the San Diego Chapter of American Society of Landscape Architects and an active member of the American Public Works Association. He is a Licensed Landscape Architect and a LEED Accredited Professional, providing sustainable design guidance on a variety of project types.

Nan Sterman

A Growing Passion

Nan-StermanCalifornia native Nan Sterman is host and co-producer of the award winning public TV show, A Growing Passion, which celebrates all the ways that San Diego “grows,” from farms and nurseries to backyards ands schoolyards, to native habitats and more.  Nan is author of California Gardener’s Guide vII and Waterwise Plants for the Southwest.  She leads international garden tours (this fall to the south of France) and designs gardens for San Diegans who desire beautiful edible, low water, and sustainable gardens. For information, visit  and

Stacey Sturnot

Terra Pacific Landscape

CLCA San Diego Chapter President

Stacey is a self-confessed “Plant Nerd” with over 23 years’ experience in the Green Industry, beginning her journey installing yards for her father’s home building business in high school. She furthered her passion in high school with Horticulture classes that included Garden Design and Plant Production. This turned into a career path as she attended Milwaukee Area Technical College, earning the Associate of Applied Science degree in Landscape Horticulture. She became certified in all tracks of this degree including Design/Build, Maintenance Arboriculture, and Garden Center/Production. The skills learned at MATC and in various positions with Garden Center Sales, Production, Landscape Maintenance and Interiorscaping, led her to ValleyCrest Companies as a college recruit in 2000. She began working in the San Diego Branch supporting and managing the design, enhancement and account management teams. Stacey has spent her 16 years in San Diego working in various roles of landscape management; maintenance, construction, sales & marketing, and operation departments, including production and inventory planning at Miramar Nurseries. Stacey has been in the Branch Manager role for over 5 years and currently is managing maintenance, construction and tree care for the San Diego region at Terra Pacific Landscape.  She holds a California Qualified Applicators License, is a Certified Water Manager, member of the San Diego Horticultural Society, SD Native Plant Society and is currently the President of the CLCA – San Diego Chapter.

Stacey has won various Landscape Design awards as a student and through her work in San Diego.  She is honored to be a part of the esteemed panel of judges.

Kimberly Alexander

Allée Landscape Design

President, San Diego District of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers APLD

Kimberly Alexander is the owner and principle designer for Allée Landscape Design-an award-winning residential design business serving San Diego County. Her passion is not only for great design, but also how to create those designs in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner using the watershed approach to landscaping. It is her belief that we are all stewards of the earth and in that regard, uses her talents to enlighten and empower her clients. Kimberly is trained in both ornamental horticulture and aboriculture and earned her Certificate in Landscape Architecture graduating Phi Theta Kappa from Mira Costa College.  She is a G3 Qualified Trainer and watershed-wise landscape professional helping to educate homeowners on how to transform their landscapes. Kimberly is President of the San Diego District of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) and a past board member at large for the San Diego Horticultural Society.  She is currently serving on the advisory board for the Horticulture Department at Mira Costa College.  She participated in Balboa Park’s Adopt a Plot and designed the south facing landscape at the San Diego Natural History Museum. As a previous exhibitor in the Garden Masters, Kimberly is excited and gratified to be asked to judge this year’s competition.

The nomenclature awards team

Nomenclature is an important element in the ability to find and attain the right plant for the landscape and garden. As part of its mission of education, the San Diego Horticultural Society evaluates the botanical nomenclature on all of the display gardens. The nomenclature awards team includes:

John and Serena Noble
Coastal Sage Gardening

Award Criteria for Garden Masters Exhibition

Execution of Purpose
Gold, silver or no award based on Statement of Purpose.

Judges’ Choice
Awarded to the garden selected from among the judge’s favorite gardens.

Peoples’ Choice
The public will be allowed to vote for their favorite garden electronically by registering their email. One vote per email address.

Pacific Horticulture Award for Horticultural Excellence
Awarded to a garden with outstanding horticultural display by Pacic Horticulture magazine.

Design Excellence Award
Awarded to a garden with outstanding design.

Water Smart Award
Awarded to the garden with the best design for education in landscape water conservation.

Award of Excellence (up to 16)
Awarded for outstanding features best meeting the award description and demonstrating excellence in the category. If no garden presents a strong value in a category, that award will not be presented. Judges have the discretion to add awards if a garden demonstrates a strong aspect not covered by categories specified.

  • Most Educational
  • Most Dramatic
  • Best Appeal to Children
  • Best Specialty Garden
  • Best Interpretation of Theme
  • Compatibility of Plant Materials
  • Combination of Plant Materials
  • Best Home Landscape
  • Best San Diego Adapted Garden
  • Most Creative Use of Space
  • Best Intimate Garden
  • Best Water Feature
  • Best Use of Hardscape
  • Best Interpretive Signage
  • Best Topiary

Perfection in Nomenclature
Awarded to each garden that perfectly identifies and labels all plants in its garden with proper botanical nomenclature.

Outstanding Plant Specimen
Additional awards will be made by a team from the San Diego Horticultural Society for outstanding plant specimens. Criteria include health and overall appearance of the plant, rarity, and horticultural merit.

Judges decisions will be final