Glen Ellen, CA ― Perched on a hill overlooking the Sonoma Valley, this elegant landscape rests gently on its oak-studded lot. "You definitely know it's in California," a juror observed of the regionally appropriate landscape. "The oaks, the grassland, the clean lines of the pool area ... such restraint!"
The owners asked designer Stephen Suzman to create a landscape that appeared as if it were part of nature. That meant disturbing the 1/2-acre landscaped area as little as possible and incorporating materials from the land.
Stone used in walls that separate the native grasslands from the pool area were gathered on the property. Native brodiaea bulbs disrupted during construction were transplanted to another part of the garden.
Although the steel-and-concrete pergola next to the pool was built for this project, its cast-concrete pillars were distressed to make them look old, and its steel lath was allowed to rust in a nearby field for several months before it was installed.
Pacific Coast iris, sword fern, and other native plants enhance the natural areas. Around the house is a mix of edibles (persimmon, grapes) and old-fashioned plants like wisteria that suggests a restored ranch garden. "Its simplicity magnifies the beauty of the surrounding land," a juror noted.
DESIGN: Suzman Design Associates, San Francisco (415/252-0111)