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Garden Designers Roundtable – Favorite Gardens

by Rebecca Sweet

The topic for this month’s Garden Designers Roundtable is Garden Travel/Best Gardens.  While I immediately thought of the many beautiful gardens I’ve seen on my travels, there’s one that I’ve recently had the pleasure of visiting, and one that I can’t get out of my mind.  It’s a private garden here in Northern California, created by Jarrod Baumann, a most talented young landscape architect with his firm Zaterre Landscape Architecture.

What makes this garden so special, is the amount of creativity Jarrod has infused in every aspect of the design.  It’s clearly a collaboration between a highly imaginative designer and a trusting and willing client, and the personal touches are evident throughout.  Sometimes high-end gardens can look a little ‘over designed’, failing to reflect the personality of the homeowners.  Definitely not the case here.

This is a garden that was patiently created over the course of three years, slowly developing one layer at a time.  Instead of implementing everything at once, this intentionally slower process meant both the clients and designer had plenty of time to think about the garden.  To think about what they wanted, about what could be, about what was important to them.  What they came up with was a garden with the perfect mix of Contemporary, Art Nouveau and Art Deco.  Sleek lines infused with sensuous and soft curves, using materials in a most unexpected way.

As the relationship between Jarrod and his clients grew, it became easier to introduce personal touches throughout, such as the cairn – a nod to their Scottish heritage – or subtly striking metal orbs hanging from majestic oaks.

The easiest way to take you through this garden is to start at the beginning and explain what you’re about to see (thanks, in part, to Mitch Maher and Marion Brenner, two fabulous photoraphers!)

The Streetside Garden

So often the strip of earth that runs parallel to the street is often neglected, left alone to fill in with whatever natives and weeds can survive on little to no irrigation.

When visitors make the trek up the windy hills to this garden, however, they’re hit with a sinuous, stacked stone wall (ala Andy Goldsworthy), brimming with succulents and cactus.

Phormiums that flank the front door

Once you enter the gates, drive up the hill where you won’t find any typical foundation plantings.

Instead, you’ll find a mix of swaths of color punctuated by stainless steel phormiums.

The Terraces

This garden is built on a fairly steep hillside.  To make the difficult terrain beautiful yet functional, Jarrod created 3 main terraces:  the Tapestry Garden, the Bocce Court, and the Inari-inspired Arbors.

All three terraces are bisected with a water trough feature running perpendicular through them.

Terrace #1: The Tapestry Garden

Terrace #2:  Bocce Court with Contemporary Tea House

Terrace #3  Inari-inspired Arbors

The Wind Room

Having a hillside garden can mean cold and windy evenings.  Wanting a cozy retreat to enjoy year-round, Jarrod created this glass encased ‘Wind Room’, complete with the elements of fire and water, of course.

The Shade Garden

To reach the bottom of the terraces you’ll meander through the shade garden, traversing comfortably wide stone steps embedded with a river of crushed glass running through them.

Rounding the corners, discreet stone benches peek out of the wall just waiting for someone to sit and rest awhile.  It’s this attention to detail that makes this garden such a delight.

The Zen Garden with Chicken Coop

At the bottom of the terraces sits the Zen Garden, bisected in the middle with one of the most beautiful chicken coops I’ve ever seen, complete with a succulent roof.  One one side of the coop is a delightfully curvacious black swoosh, and on the other side is another shape, distinctly different.  This side of the Zen garden is in the shape of the San Francisco Peninsula, with Los Gatos represented by a stone on which the owner can sit and contemplate.  How cool is THAT?

I truly hope you’ve enjoyed experiencing this garden as much as I did.  And please stop by the other Roundtabler’s to visit some of their own favorites, including our featured guest this month, Fern Richardson who writes the popular blog, Life on the Balcony.

Fern Richardson : Life on the Balcony : Orange County CA

Susan Morrison : Blue Planet Garden Blog : East Bay, CA

Susan Cohan : Miss Rumphius’ Rules : Chatham, NJ

Scott Hokunson : Blue Heron Landscapes : Granby, CT

Rochelle Greayer : Studio G : Boston, MA

Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK

Genevieve Schmidt : North Coast Gardening : Arcata, CA

David Cristiani : The Desert Edge : Albuquerque NM


Eric Szvoboda February 5, 2013 at 3:22 pm

What brilliant ideas!!! This is an incredible garden! I love it! I mean the crush glass that is running down the path is so smart! Did you cut the stone away after you placed it or did you cut it that way? Also how did you keep the glass from falling and look like water? Amazing I have to say it looks amazing!

Robert Webber May 3, 2012 at 10:18 am

Wot a stunner!
I can so c y u remembered it so clearly. I feel a bit overwhelmed now!
Such planting panache.
I really love it when design is done with a sense of fun, but you sure need the right client!
Thanks so much Rebecca

Rebecca Sweet May 8, 2012 at 7:50 pm

Hi Robert – so glad you enjoyed the tour! I love a sense of humor in design as well, and this one has the perfect balance between elegance and humor. It’s truly lovely.

Pam/Digging April 26, 2012 at 10:53 am

What an incredible, creative expression. This garden definitely has soul.

Laura April 24, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Rebecca, this garden is stunning! Thanks for sharing it.

I want to let you know that I will be at the MG presentation, gardening in small spaces, so I will introduce myself. Will you bring copies of your book?

Rebecca Sweet April 24, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Yay! I’m so glad I’ll finally get to meet you in person, Laura! And yes, I’ll be bringing my books, too. :)

Laura April 25, 2012 at 3:51 am

Looking forward to hearing your presentation and saying hi too, and maybe buying a book or two.

Rebecca Sweet April 25, 2012 at 6:49 am

Thanks so much, Laura!

Fern @ Life on the Balcony April 24, 2012 at 11:16 am

The wavy metal retaining wall is awesome, and it just gets more awesome as you see the rest of the garden. I know why you picked this garden to feature for GDRT! Love the color pallet too.

Rebecca Sweet April 24, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Thanks Fern! My first thought was to write about the gardens I’ve seen back East, but really – does it get any better than this? I think not! Glad you joined us this month, too!

susan morrison April 24, 2012 at 9:05 am

What an amazing garden! I also love the “Goldsworthy” touches, even more than the original inspiration because of the excellent plant choices. So sorry I missed my opportunity to see this garden in person, but your pictures are wonderful (as always).

Rebecca Sweet April 24, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Susan, you’d love this garden (and Jarrod, too!) We’ll definitely have to make a field trip out there – maybe in the fall when the maples are in color!?

commonweeder April 24, 2012 at 8:44 am

what a wonderful garden. That chicken coop is a fantasy! It’s nice to have a touch of humor.

Rebecca Sweet April 24, 2012 at 5:45 pm

When I visited the coop wasn’t completely built – can’t wait to see what breed of chickens get to call this palace ‘home’!

Desert Dweller / David C. April 24, 2012 at 8:37 am

This is an amazing mix of designs, showing what a healthy budget and healthy mind(s) can create! Now, I’m trying to figure out where I’ve seen some of his projects before… This will be a read and re-read post.

For now, “what they wanted, about what could be, about what was important…” – all crucial. I need to study all the rock work more; not there yet. And the steel phormium vignette is wow…in the desert, I know similar forms but definitely not the same…glad it’s noted from Baumann’s / your west coast perspective.

Rebecca Sweet April 24, 2012 at 5:44 pm

I’m so glad you appreciate the design of this garden, David. I somehow thought you might like those phormiums! ;)

sheila schultz April 23, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Wow… the initial photo intrigued me, and then it just got better. The stacked stone wall seems to be alive, the stainless steel phormium’s are great fun, the firepit makes me drool and the stone steps with the undulating path of crushed glass is a dream… oh, did I mention that the plantings are pretty cool, too? I’m thinking I adore this garden, Rebecca. Thanks for taking me to another world…

Rebecca Sweet April 23, 2012 at 9:54 pm

You are so welcome, Sheila! I’m so happy you love this as much as I do – isn’t it fantastic?

sheila schultz April 24, 2012 at 5:27 pm

PS… A day later, I’m still looking at your photos, Rebecca. Jarrod has made a place for himself in the design world. Whether folks like his style or not, this guy is making an impact… piece by piece.

Rebecca Sweet April 24, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Sheila – I’m so, so glad you’re enjoying this garden! Jarrod has certainly made his mark in the design world so far – and he’s got many more years ahead of him. Can’t wait to see what else he creates!!

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