This is a good place to mention "borrowed" views...I mean, those trees on the opposite bank are as much a part of the experience of this garden as those in it, and they are stunning. The local homeowners have taken good care of their shared views.
The creek meanders on through the redwood grove, which is a public park and quite busy, so it was important to partially screen views all around to protect privacy; being able to do so and still feel so open and natural was the trick.
That is Cercis canadensis "Lavender Twist" by the way...a particularly sexy specimen that Sam found. Yes, she's fabulous. Cercis do very well in this garden, as you shall see.
Just look at those redwoods. And there are mature pines and cedars as well. It's a shady, acidic, water loving little corner of the world. A second Arbutus mirrors the first one; strong evergreen elements guiding you across the lawn. Deciduous understory trees and shrubs enclose the space seasonally. They (and the lawn) get lots of morning sun; the garden is dappled for the rest of the day.
The second stairway connects them more directly with the new garden, improves traffic flow and ties the garden to the house. The generous planting beds along the deck overflow with hydrangea, dogwood, fuchsia and dianella.
And again, I can't stress enough how wonderful it is to build a garden like this with a skilled contractor. I started as a self-taught home gardener, and didn't much venture beyond what I could do with hand tools when building my own gardens. So to have the full resources of a contractor, in terms of tools, equipment, labor, skill, etc. is a wonderful thing, and to be allowed a guiding hand in the building is a really great opportunity to own your design.
Plans can always be improved upon, and frequently are. In fact, I get a little nervous when there are no changes during a build...certainly there must be something we can improve on, now that we can see how everything comes together! This job was full of such subtle upgrades and details.
We chose not to do groundcover between the stones here for a couple of reasons: first it's a frequently used living area with furniture, firepit, and lots of foot traffic. And second, this moist, shady area wouldn't be improved by irrigating the patio. I loved to see how nicely the gorgeous trio of native Redbuds (Cercis occidentalis) had filled in.
Samscaping Inc. who installed (and now maintains) this beautiful space. It is wonderful to see one's visions made real, even better to enjoy the finished product years later (the ultimate test!)