How a homeowner with an artist’s love of beautiful details and a receptive landscape designer found synergy and fertile ground in the garden for a beautiful backyard landscape collaboration.
A couple of years after installation, this garden has matured beautifully. I cherish the artistic collaboration with my clients; it contributes to very personalized and satisfying designs. In this project, the teamwork was particularly fruitful, as Melissa F., entrepreneur, artist and singer/song-writer, contributed an immense flow of creative ideas and suggestions. The result is a garden that is beautiful and incredibly peaceful.
Melissa calls it her ‘outdoor home’ because it’s all here: living room, kitchen, sitting room and lounge, and vivid plantings that make all come to life.
The previous backyard landscape design consisted of an uninspiring courtyard that a planter bed set in the middle made user-unfriendly.
Melissa and Todor love to cook and entertain outside. To blend the outdoor kitchen seamlessly, we used bamboo facing, echoing the indoor flooring and the living bamboo hedge. Now, under the cool shade sails, the outdoor dining area feels like it has always been there.
For each material selection we explored the idea of “weathering”, inspired by the mottled copper caps on eaves and fence posts and the home’s faded wood siding. The naturally rusted steel used for edging, planting troughs, fountain and gas lights provides that patina; matte concrete and exposed beach pebbles continue the theme.
Organized to allow for entertainment, relaxation and play, the garden creates a dynamic and sunny ‘outdoor home’ where plants add color, life and interest and prevent the built elements from overpowering the garden.
The bamboo hedge is a beautiful response to the construction of an oversized home in the neighbor’s yard that threatened the privacy and intimacy of this garden. The hedge helps focus the eye on the interior and defines the boundary of this backyard. It’s exciting to see how the black Bamboo stems echo the dark pavement in a wonderful contrast to the surrounding green foliage.
Most of the original overgrown “tropical” plants were removed and replaced with low maintenance plants, many of them from the sub-tropics. This xeriscape landscaping was composed in colors of Melissa’s preferred color palette:
Forest Pansy Redbud, bronze Sedge and golden Kangaroo Paw, purplish Echeveria and in-ground Bromeliad with striking foliage. A few splashes of orange and red add highlights to the picture.
One of the landscape lighting ideas was to use steel “fire” troughs. They provide light, warmth and entertainment after nightfall. While their mottled rusty walls continue the theme of weathering, they also tie the different spaces together.
The steel fountain complements the materials used in the landscape and has a calming effect on all senses.
If synergy is “the ability of a group to outperform even its best individual member”, then this residential landscape design is a beautiful example of how two creative individuals with their own aesthetics found common ground in the garden and created a product that will satisfy its owners for years to come. (Landscape designer San Diego Christiane Holmquist).
Photography: Patricia Bean Architectural Photography