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More December scenes in a north. California setting

Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
Fri, Dec 16, 11 at 17:54

Just thought I'd include another warmer weather(relatively speaking, it isn't exactly warm at 55F here in Berkeley), scene of a garden built around foliage contrast and texture, and very little floral color. The palms and succulents along with the white walls, wood and stone accents and warm earth toned concrete paving and benches provide a look that is little changing with the seasons. This is another garden for the same builder client where the back garden was designed to wrap around a single existing specimen live oak tree that was the only feature in the back yard. It was actually great fun to develop spaces that pushed and pulled with the sinuous trunks of this oak, and had cantilevered terraces and balconies per my site design that related to the oak from 3 different levels across the back 3 stories of the residence. It always felt to me like I was transported to a secret forest hide-away while in this garden, a place out of time. Check out some of the other photos of the garden in the set if interested.

Mainly I am posting this here to share ideas on how to design a garden for year round interest, while also being sensitive to the concerns of landscaping around existing mature oak trees that are intolerant of summer watering or grade disturbances of their root zone. We actually did quite a bit of filling to create level areas within the garden, but with minimal impact on the tree growing out of almost solid rock...

Here is a link that might be useful: A winter garden scene in the Berkeley hills of California


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: More December scenes in a north. California setting

My favourite things are how the staircase wraps around the trunk of the oak, the plain white stand-alone wall in the backdrop of the balcony and the pebble border. It all truly sets the stage.


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RE: More December scenes in a north. California setting

  • Posted by jkom51 Z9 CA/Sunset 17 (My Page) on
    Sun, Dec 18, 11 at 19:06

That salvia splendens is terrific - love it! I especially love your surface textures. You are a real master at creating textural 'still lifes'.


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RE: More December scenes in a north. California setting

Absolutely fantastic!
What did you use for fill, and can you elaborate how you minimized the impact for the existing trees?


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RE: More December scenes in a north. California setting

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Mon, Dec 19, 11 at 2:27

The amount of fill was strictly limited to areas a good 10 feet away from the base of the trunk of both of the existing live oaks, and the depth of fill was limited to less than 12 inches outboard of this 10 foot diameter. Irrigation within the tree canopy was limited to very low water plants within the canopy zone, even while using lush looking succulents and bromeliads, as the amount and frequency of the drip irrigation was very slight. The fill used was a top soil amendment sold under the name of Multiple Purpose by American Soil Products here in Richmond, Ca, and is a mix of scoria, ground up fir bark, and chicken manure with a small amount of loam. It is very fast draining, and was not used at all within 10 feet of the trunks. New paving within the root zones was laid over a minimal fill layer first, so no tree roots were cut, and a sand setting bed 2 inches deep underlies all the concrete slabs at walkways, which were not continguously poured, so that there would still be air to the root zone. I had to add the low seat wall below the main terrace to create sufficient soil depth for new plantings, as the area immediately surrounding the oak in the back yard was nearly solid boulders. This part of the Berkeley hills is a former volcanic zone and has huge boulder outcrops scattered amongst the 1000's of live oaks in the neighborhood. It was actually rather unusual that this particular rock had very little volcanic rock exposed, and not huge boulders like some lots in the neighborhood have that may be as much as 10 feet tall by 15 feet across.

Here is a link that might be useful: Alternate view of oak tree and grading


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Another California winter garden scene

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Thu, Dec 22, 11 at 16:51

Strong structural bones contrasting with lush tropical looking foliage can make for a serene contemplative garden no matter what the season. We're fortunate here in the SF Bay Area that we can use the more tender subtropical plants such as the Brugmansia, Citrus, Bougainvillea, Giant Bird of Paradise for year round effect. Some colder winters might create a bit of frost damage, but all these plants shown will easily recover within a year's time and shrug it off.

In my opinion, Mediterranean architectural detailing of stucco walls, ceramic glazed tiles, saltillo tiles along with cast colored concrete combine beautifully in this contemporary design for an older historic spanish look home. The surrounding oak woodlands and pines setting are generic enough in appearance that the tropicals don't appear glaringly out of context, but instead complement the garden design.

Here is a link that might be useful: Another winter California garden scene


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RE: More December scenes in a north. California setting

Ooooo the Hollywood house.
My fave !

From david's garden photos

stepping it up

From david's garden photos

pots on the terrace

From david's garden photos

From david's garden photos

Border to the front door

From david's garden photos

Front door

From david's garden photos


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RE: More December scenes in a north. California setting

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Sat, Dec 24, 11 at 17:36

Michelle, thanks for posting those additional photos of the Montclair Oakland hills garden, it seems like you never take a bad photo!

I am linking another photo of the other garden with the oak tree and landscaping taken about 2 years later, to show how things had grown in considerably, even though there was very little water being applied near the tree's base...

Here is a link that might be useful: View down upon oak, several years later


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