The best thing about a rare June rainstorm in Northern California is the opportunity to experience our summer gardens in a new light. I revisited two of my favorites last week for a weather-induced impromptu photo session. I was thinking a lot about my cohorts at the Garden Designer's Roundtable who were posting articles about designing for shade that very day, as I consider these to be some of my shadiest work!
|Hakonechloa macra aureola|
As I remembered these projects, I was reminded again about how great designer-contractor-client communication and synergy are so important. Some of the best ideas I've ever been a part of came during animated, focused, in-the-moment, on-site discussions. I can plan and design beautifully on paper (both of these gardens were drawn out in great detail) but the real art comes in the doing, the details, and how the space evolves over time.
Both of these landscapes were built by Sam Whitney of Samscaping, Inc., a truly outstanding contractor who I would recommend to anyone. (Check out their virtual tours, pretty impressive.) They were also, for the most part, a clean sweep, with only mature trees retained (so necessary when you must significantly alter the grade). We incorporated the displaced right back into the new design wherever possible.
Speaking of mature trees, I should mention that these gardens (just a couple doors from each other) are located at the edge of an historic redwood grove; the magnificent trees in and around them set the scene. Our goal was to fit right in, while making the most of this classic California biome. The owners of these gardens have done a beautiful job with maintenance as well (see my previous post). These visits were unannounced and unstaged on a Tuesday morning...
The story behind the gate is a classic example of the kind of 3-way synergy I mentioned before. Sam showed us a picture of this lovely wood and copper structure he had purchased at the SF Flower & Garden Show years before, and not yet used. Our client immediately said YES and I immediately said THERE, pointing to the spot that marks the precise transition between the shady front garden and the sunny rose garden. And there it stands; I can't imagine this space without it.
A beautiful combination of Oxalis and Campanula; both ideally suited for this shady woodland garden.
Pottery Planet, and overflows into a generous underground basin. Mondo grass is great low-litter groundcover near water features, which need much less maintenance if the recirculating water is kept very clean.
The new lower terrace, two steps up from grade, activated hundreds of square feet of unused space. Adding a second staircase from the upper terrace was a late addition to the design (and not an inexpensive one) but it made a huge difference. It created a natural corner for the outdoor kitchen and greatly improved traffic flow
The beautiful travertine pavers are by Olympic Stone and Marble, and are a marvelous product. Beautiful colors, easy to work with, nice variety of sizes. I normally specify a square grid on a 45-degree angle, but we got a really good deal on these 16x20 pavers, so we used them in a diagonal running bond pattern, which works great for a larger spaces. We also refaced the existing terrace and steps, which were plain cast concrete and screaming for an upgrade!
This is one of my favorite outdoor fireplace installations. The simple, elegant pre-cast unit is from Designs by Garry Inc. It was easy to install, and five years later still works well and looks wonderful. The top of the seat wall is a lovely green granite, which was also used for the kitchen countertop. The frame inset in the wall is an outdoor speaker. The brown bonsai-style pots were also from Pottery Planet (love the little feet that made installing the drip irrigation a breeze!)
CLCA awards at both the state and local levels. Sam and I are very proud of it, and our client's obvious pride, enjoyment and appreciation are gratifying.
Stay tuned for my next post, which explores a nearby home tucked even deeper into the redwoods. Thanks for joining me today!