The winners of our 2008–2009 garden contest offer fine touches while taking advantage of the greatest freebie of all: nature
Kathleen N. Brenzel
1 of 10Thomas J. Story
Is this a postcard?
When our judges first saw this photo, they said, “We want to be there. Now.” While the owners probably wouldn’t want us vacationing in their backyard, we briefly fantasized about it. The fiberglass lounge chairs offer a front-row seat to Phoenix’s Camelback Mountain and seem to float on the pool’s surface because they’re secured on a shallow, submerged deck. What would make this escape complete? A book, flip-flops, a spritzy refresher, and time to enjoy the negative-edge pool in its oasis setting surrounded by agaves, red yucca, creosote bush, saguaros, and palo verde.
Design: Rick Jones and Kristina Floor, JJR Floor, Phoenix (602/462-1425)
Steal it: The open-style fence of rusty steel pipes (anchored below ground in concrete) eliminates the need for horizontal supports and avoids blocked views. With close neighbors, you could plant a blooming vine on it for a living fence.
2 of 10Chris Leschinsky
Regional: Morro Bay, CA
A wow backdrop
Without missing a beat, this backyard echoes its stunning view of Morro Bay, California. Every element and material takes a cue from the estuary setting, including paths that mimic the shoreline curves, a concrete wall bench whose sheen mirrors the bay’s still waters, and flagstone pavers in the colors of the distant sandspit. A meandering path leads to a bench overlooking the bay. Ah, solitude.
Steal it: Let the landscape you love inspire your paving. Landscape architect Jeffrey Gordon Smith chose flagstone pavers with dark Mexican pebbles between them to resemble the fingers of water that drain to the bay.
3 of 10Chris Leschinsky
A stone seat wall
Morro Bay, CA
Boulders anchor the stacked stone walls, echoing nearby Morro Rock; a native dudleya grows in a pocket between stones while Carex flacca fringes the base.
You never know what you might find behind an entry gate. In the case of this contemporary Seattle home, it’s a jasmine- and rosemary-scented journey from the street-level gate to the front door. You descend 12 feet down colored concrete stairs, passing a "rill" filled with black pebbles to suggest the soothing flow of water.
In the courtyard below, a ginkgo tree’s yellow-green foliage contrasts beautifully with darker mondo grass. Bands of greenery were planted to create a linear pattern that echoes the trellis overhead.
Steal it: Tuck a fringe of green between pavers. Designer Randy Allworth chose baby’s tears for the shaded foreground and ‘Elfin’ thyme for the sunny background.
8 of 10Jennifer Cheung
A touch of Bali
We love this garden’s blend of tropical lushness and modern Asian flair. Wherever you go, you’re within sight and sound of water in this space in Newport Beach, California. The hillside property is small, but outdoor living areas are abundant.
A path skirts the home’s north side, connecting a series of courtyards ― a lounge area, a dining courtyard, and a sun deck ― like a string of pearls. The pool, spa, and deck at the path’s end all face the Pacific Ocean.
Design: Glen Brouwer, Integration Design Studio, Carlsbad, CA (760/602-0144), in collaboration with the owners, Carmela and Miles Phillips
9 of 10Jennifer Cheung
A piece of art tucked amid greenery at the end of the path treats visitors to a visual surprise.
10 of 10Jennifer Cheung
The following designers are also winners in our 2008–09 Dream Garden Awards contest. See their work in our garden blog, Fresh Dirt: