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Much like in interiors, Landscape Design Is An Art Of Shape And Form, Texture And Layering. Yet Unlike The Protected Shell Of The Indoors, The Great Outdoors Make For Wild Elements And Natural Imperfections—Not To Mention That The Materials (Quite Unlike Furnishings) Are Living, Breathing Plants. Here Four California Landscapers Give Us A Peek At Their Art Form And How They Excel At Designing From The Ground Up. BY JENNIFER BLAISE KRAMER



A longtime lauded green goddess in the industry, Molly Wood is known for her personalized, magazine-ready gardens. Here she worked her magic for one client looking for an easy, outdoor haven near Newport Beach. Warm Ipe (Brazilian hardwood) wraps around the barbeque, hot tub, and fence while unthirsty synthetic turf mixes with modern gray square pavers made of pre– and post–consumer recycled materials. Asparagus Fern and Green Aeonium add low-maintenance graphic impact around a pergola, which provides shelter and shade over the breezy, low-slung seating. “Furniture can either elevate a space or drag it down,” Wood says. “Pay attention to the movement of sun and shade in your garden and plan accordingly with seating areas.” Nearby she created another organic-inspired oasis complete with a duck pond, chicken coop, pool, bocce ball court, dining area, and private hot tub off the master suite. Located in an equestrian area on an active estuary with all sorts of wildlife, Wood kept the design loose and natural with flowing grasses and blooming perennials that are repeated in the distant views. Arizona flagstone and Del Rio gravel tie into the native tones along with fragrant plants, such as the hummingbird-attracting Smokey Westringia and Salvia Leucantha. “I was inspired by the idea of creating a garden that needs only supplemental water during the hottest months of the year once established,” she says, advising to always pick plants that aren’t fussy. “In general, we Californians are busy, active people without a lot of time to tend to needy plants.”




Known to bring her “east coast sophistication to the west coast wild,” landscape designer architect Katharine Webster did just that in Sonoma’s George Ranch. This modern, country home was designed by architect George Bevan and it was important to let the rural setting and trees remain in-tact when laying out the new elements. “We created a landscape design that would frame the views, vistas, and sight lines, while giving a sense of living on the edge of nature,” says Webster, who incorporated new corten steel raised beds, bluestone, willow, and decomposed granite paving with what was already in place. Retaining the old fencing lends a sense of history


while added stone walls provide new, needed boundaries. Interplanting between pavers provides softness in the hardscape and a mix of droughttolerant yet lush plants cut back on water and enhance fire resistance. Rustic walkways wind through the lower gardens and paths, leading to a sport court and bocce court set among oak trees as well as a fire pit area and tent that’s set up for spontaneous camping adventures. Always aiming to offer a connection to the site, the pool house frames the distant view to the meadow beyond. Says Webster: “The site’s meadow was so peaceful with the arrangement of oaks dotted throughout the property, it has grace to it.”



Thinking beyond the garden, Studio William Hefner fully integrates architecture, interior design, and landscape for what the firm calls a holistic practice. Hefner’s own home and garden in Montecito, set on over an acre of land, is a perfect example of this full-service approach. He designed around seven oak trees that are nearly 250 years old on the property and took it another step further, overlaying a new group of coast live oaks in with the native trees to continue the existing random pattern across the site. “The inspiration for the project was the character of the native vegetation of the central coast,” Hefner says, using Agave franzosinii, Calamagrostis foliosa, and Stipa ichu in the garden as well as native stones.


In grading and excavating for the pool, they unearthed an abundance of local stone and boulders “as large as small cars.” Those thousand-year-old stones were used on the buildings and as gravity walls to retain and level portions of the site. Between the walls are level areas for fruit orchards and vegetable gardens with connecting pathways built big enough for bikes and go karts. A large pool is scaled to the property and anchored by the lawn. The sleek pool lounge lets the family catch the last light of the day when the mountains turn pink and the sun falls over the new and old oaks—trees he says, “that make the elements of the house feel like they’ve been there for generations.”


ZETERRE San Francisco-based Zeterre puts worldly spin on their local outdoor spaces. Their creative concepts run whimsical to grand with lots of graphics and pattern. For one Palo Alto home, founding landscape architect Jarrod Baumann shaped the entire garden around amazing trees. Working off a Japanese Maple that had been pruned and trained for over 10 years at the nursery, that hovered just one foot above ground, Baumann planted surrounding creamcolored crushed limestone to better show off the handiwork. Another Japanese Black Pine had been trained for over 40 years and adds history against nearby Corkscrew Shaped Weeping Elms and Gingko Shrubs. One wall was inspired by a tansu chest while a zipper pathway was created after an ancient garden that Baumann had seen in a recent trip to Kyoto, Japan. “Using them in a Japanese fashion, the two really work well together,” he says. “I love this sort of Zen quality.”

Always thinking global, Zeterre designed another internationally-inspired garden in Pebble Beach,where clients wanted their Spanish revival house from the early 1900s to feel more French classical. At the time, Baumann (who was then 27) had been spending a lot of time in France and was highly influenced by the gardens at Vaux Le Vicomte. Pulling from a favorite garden in Provence, the gateway off the 17-mile drive is adorned with latticework of ivy and a limestone antique urn. Plantings are kept very minimal to be low-water and low-maintenance, so the garden relies heavily on structure and form. A bocce ball court is lined with a path of tall, upright Italian Cypress trees, limestone caps and finials were done by master carvers from France and Italy, and leftover pollarded trees nod to the Old World elegance. Adds Baumann: “We were able to maintain these from the original Spanish revival home and these definitely add wonderful history.”



Baumann was highly influenced by the gardens at Vaux Le Vicomte.

Profile for Zeterre Landscape Architecture

"Green with Envy" Feature in California Homes Magazine  

Much like in interiors, Landscape Design Is An Art Of Shape And Form, Texture And Layering. Yet Unlike The Protected Shell Of The Indoors, T...

"Green with Envy" Feature in California Homes Magazine  

Much like in interiors, Landscape Design Is An Art Of Shape And Form, Texture And Layering. Yet Unlike The Protected Shell Of The Indoors, T...