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AVANTGARDENER

Jarrod Baumann of Zeterre Landscape Architecture stretches the imagination for Silicon Valley’s most prestigious gardens. By Theresa Gonzalez

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nconventional thinking has become a hallmark of landscape architect Jarrod Baumann’s style, and it’s something his clients, some of the most brilliant minds in Silicon Valley, have come to expect. “They’re constantly challenging me to think outside the box,” says the founder of Zeterre Landscape Architecture. Checkerboard French parterres, brick turrets inhabited by plants and goats, and even a living retractable gate that he describes as the first of its kind are just a few surprises he’s pulled off in recent years. “I like the unexpected. It’s really important to me to use plants and other design elements that our clients would not see at their friends’ houses.” Baumann’s team recently completed a $3 million project for a Los Altos Hills bachelor pad, carefully planting some 2,600 succulents at the surface of the innovative living gate. Beyond the gate lies a private botanical oasis: a terraced garden with a three-level cascading infinity pool built into the hillside. Foliage such as an 80-foot-tall blue atlas cedar and a family of icy blue podocarpus complement the home’s striking

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARION BRENNER

This succulent-rich retractable gate has its own irrigation system and was handplanted by the Zeterre team; Los Gatos-based RJ Landscape installed the rest of the $3 million project.


PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARION BRENNER; PORTRAIT BY ANAIS BERGER

Clockwise from top left: Texture and color with plants keep Baumann’s gardens looking vibrant year-round; the three-level cascading pool creates a waterfall effect; pup Duchess with Baumann in his San Francisco office.

midnight-blue facade while offering extra privacy. As for Baumann’s signature element of surprise? Inside the pool sits a miniature island on which a rare dragon tree from South Africa displays a sculptural scene and a bit of shade. Baumann has been a collector of rare plants and antiques (he’s an antiques dealer on the side) for decades. “My grandmother would hand me seeds as an allowance,” he says, and, by age 12, he had planted a secret garden on his family’s ranch near Yosemite of more than 200 plants, including heritage roses, black arum and Californian native redbud trees. “Every penny that I could get my hands on went into collecting rare plants.” At just 23, not long after graduating from California Polytechnic State University, Baumann scored his first solo

project in Los Gatos for a billionaire tech chief executive officer. The 26,000-squarefoot property was home to 7 acres of garden space, which took Baumann and team nearly seven years to fully landscape. “They wanted it to feel like the garden had been there for a long time,” says Baumann. That meant bringing in 80 full-size hybrid madrones, an ancient bonfire Japanese maple that rests at the center of an interior courtyard and ancient desert willows, which Baumann says nod to the past, but still feel contemporary. “It’s like another language,” he says of his encyclopedic knowledge of horticulture. He geeks out with 250 of his peers through a group called Leaders of Design, which offers architects and designers private viewings of properties around the world. His favorite inspirations hail continued…

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“I like the unexpected. It’s really important to me to use plants and other design elements that our clients would not see at their friends’ houses.” – ARCHITECT JARROD BAUMANN

...continued from Lake Maggiore and Lake Como in Italy, the Bastide gardens of Provence, and the Lotusland garden and estate in Montecito. But, while inspired by classic European and Japanese gardens, Baumann exhibits a range that suits his diverse clientele. “I would say we are site-specific and architecture-appropriate,” he says about what makes a design a Jarrod Baumann design. “I’m helping my clients design their dream gardens, not my dream garden.” Still, from a modern Zen garden to a Southern-inspired plantation in the heart of Northern California, Baumann’s designs uniformly show a restraint in ornamentation with an inventive and sophisticated simplicity. “My clients wear tailored suits and drive cars built to their specifications. They expect the same excellence

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY MITCHELL MAHER

Clockwise from top left: The landscaping of this Palo Alto Eichler connects it to a neighboring guesthouse; six custom screens pivot for privacy; rare dwarf Italian cypresses make the small garden feel larger; the grounds were designed as a playhouse for the family dog, and for entertaining.


From left: Baumann designed 7 acres of gardens around artwork owned by the homeowners, including these boulders from India; the clients spent more than $1 million to move existing trees, rather than cutting them down.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY JARROD BAUMANN

The patio’s blue agaves accentuate one of 200 sculptures.

in their homes and gardens, and I make sure I deliver on their high expectations.” Mixing the personal with business isn’t taboo when projects can span several years. “Three of my closest friends were, at one point, clients,” he says. “The more I know my clients, the better I can design for them, and so I make a diligent effort to really get to know them.” Now that he’s nearly 20 years into his career, Baumann has found ways to give back to the community. He’s on the advisory council for the Marin-based nonprofit Slide Ranch, which educates children about the importance of nature and conservation. “I knew I had to be involved—and, of course, I grew up on a ranch!” Baumann’s latest commission crosses from the private into the public arena for many to experience: reinventing the gardens of the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco. “It’s a big deal to leave that legacy. I want to make sure I absolutely love it,” he says. Now in the early stages of planning, the design—stretching beyond the expected—will include a collaboration with installation artist Ian Ross. “A garden is an investment like art,” Baumann says. “If it’s a unique and original design, it’s like an art piece.”

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Avant-Gardener  

Feature article in Modern Luxury Silicon Valley December 2018 issue about Zeterre Landscape Architecture founder Jarrod Baumann

Avant-Gardener  

Feature article in Modern Luxury Silicon Valley December 2018 issue about Zeterre Landscape Architecture founder Jarrod Baumann

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