Santa Rosa, California: Bathing beauty

This bathtub is in the garden
Lauren Bonar Swezey

A relaxing morning soak in a large bathtub filled with steaming hot water is a great way to start the day. Or so thought designers and homeowners Anne-Marie and Jeff Allen.

But their soaking tub is not indoors like most: It's outdoors--surrounded by a beautiful garden.

The tub has humble origins: It once served as a place to clean tools and keep drinks cold during parties before the Allens spruced it up to use as a bath. Hot and cold running water leads to a newly enameled green tub set on a thick stone slab. Surrounding the slab is a flagstone patio with Japanese black pebbles in the cracks.

Screens made from bamboo and birch branches as well as plantings (golden currant, white abutilon, and New Zealand flax) create privacy. Gardenia, jasmine, sarcococca, and sweet olive fill the air with perfume. "Charming and playful!" noted an amused juror.

DESIGNERS: Anne-Marie and Jeff Allen, Allen Landscaping, Santa Rosa, CA (707/526-3177 or 433-3177)