The hot summer-dry landscape demands tough California native and other Mediterranean climate plantings. The sterile rock on which the house and garden were built also requires plants that can thrive with limited nutrients.
The owners desired a casual. relaxed looking landscape around the house, one that would transition to the native landscape on the property. And they wanted plantings that would look good throughout the year and not require a lot of maintenance.
This steep hillside in San Rafael, Marin County, is the setting for one of our favorite gardens. A large red-flowered horse-chestnut (Aesculus X carnea ‘Briottii’) is the main focal point in the spring in this garden. An inviting set of curved steps leads up under the horse-chestnut to the beginning of the trail. The switch back path connects to two sitting areas, a hot tub, and vegetable gardens. The views toward Mt. Tam gets better as one moves up through the plantings. From the perspective of the back patio of the house, the plantings are overlapping and layered, giving a simple cascading garden effect which is colorful yet restful. The garden is a mixture of old fashion favorites and the newest horticultural introductions. There are many edible plants and flowers for cutting. Mixing a wide variety of unusual subtropical and Mediterranean shrubs and perennials combined make this a classic Planet Horticulture garden.
Urn plantings add color accents against the stucco. Here Canna with Pelargonium and Oxalis ‘Plum Crazy’ balanced with reverted bronze stems gives seasonal interest.