Elizabeth Murray, B.A. Environmental Studies, 1976

Elizabeth Murray grew up in nearby Marin County. After living in Maine, she returned to California to receive her BA in environmental studies with an emphasis in fine art and botany from Sonoma State University in 1976. Upon graduation, she worked for the National Park Service at Marin Headlands as crew leader of a youth conservation program until the urge to travel struck again. This time, she headed to Ghana for three months, after which she came back home to California to Monterey County to pursue her true love of gardening and landscaping.

In 1984, Murray was enjoying a successful business in Carmel and decided to take a 10-week sabbatical to explore the gardens and museums of Europe. She visited and fell in love with Monet's gardens in Giverny, France--gardens which he personally designed and cultivated as inspiration for his work. She volunteered to work in the gardens and spent her days weeding, planting and pruning. She assisted with the restoration of two adjacent gardens, the flower garden and another garden which features Monet's famous lily pond. Murray was the first woman to work with the seven-man team and they were quite suspicious of her motives. However, she won them over with her ideas and dedication. She photographed and documented her entire experience which lead to the publication of her first book and created a life-long connection with Monet's garden, a location she continues to visit annually.

Today, Murray is the author of five books on gardening and 36+ calendars. Best known perhaps for her connection and passion with Claude Monet, the father of Impressionism, her work includes the best selling Monet's Passion: Ideas, Inspiration and Insights from the Painter's Gardens (150,000 copies sold to date), Painterly Photography: Awakening the Artist Within and Cultivating Sacred Space: Gardening for the Soul. Murray is also a recognized photographer whose work is permanently housed in several museums, including the M. H. de Young Museum of San Francisco and the new Orleans Museum of Art. A selection of her Giverny images were chosen to accompany the recent traveling Exhibition Monet: Late Paintings of Giverny from the Musee Marmottan. Her photographic work is published annually in several calendars on garden-related themes and this year, her line of painted photographs will be featured in a one-woman show in Tokyo, Japan and at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

A well-known international lecturer, Murray has designed and supervised installations of public and private gardens throughout the US. Her work has been featured in Sunset, Garden Design, Victoria Magazine, and Harpers. Murray runs her own garden design consulting practice specializing in transforming large public spaces into gardens that offer visitors an opportunity for tranquillity, reflection and sanctuary, as well as garden restoration. Her diverse work experience includes assisting in the restoration of Claude Monet's gardens in Giverny, France and being founding director of the San Francisco Landscape Garden Show. Her work is featured at the Del Monte Shopping Center where 45 acres of garden were renovated and redesigned to feature nine theme gardens including: children's, topiary, bird and butterfly, ornamental grasses, native plants, herbs, roses, annual color, and a mural fantasy garden. She also does commercial photography, editorial illustration, and package design.