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.
Planet Horticulture uses plants of all sizes from 2″ liners to amazing specimen trees. In this West Sonoma County garden we planted a uniquely trained 80 year old weeping Atlas cedar. A slow growing form of a drought tolerant North African native, this tree provide a powerful focal point and screening for the front yard of this delightful 19th century farm house. Once it was installed, it seemed like it had been part of the original landscape.
Guadalupe Island Palm
Brahea edulis, the Guadalupe Island palm, a rare endemic native of islands off the coast of northern Baja Mexico is very slow growing in cultivation and is also drought tolerant and among the hardiest of palms. This specimen was estimated to be more than 40 years old and helped to create an instant oasis effect in this wine country poolside garden.
The clients of this newly built modern home in the Oakland Hills wanted to start the landscape with as many mature trees as possible. We chose this special ancient olive as a focal point for the main entry courtyard. This gnarly old tree gave the house a more human scale making it seem more at home in the landscape.
A diverse planting of succulents, shrubs, palms, perennials and annuals all attractively arranged for a long season of interest.
The driveway approach to this cottage in the foothills above Calistoga in the Napa Valley now has a welcoming cottage garden of diverse heat-tolerant, low water, all season plants. This garden border invites lingering and perusal of the plants, both as individuals and for their combinations. The stairway seen in the Before image is just beyond the gray shrub on the right.