Embracing heritage

A San Luis Obispo garden reconnects to its Craftsman character and the land it sits on

John's house

A white picket fence and lawn were replaced by blond stone walls and plants like red-hot poker that blend in with the coastal chaparral.

Steven Gunther

Click to Enlarge

John's before
John's stream

Why would you want an East Coast garden in a West Coast town? Jeffrey Gordon Smith, a Baywood Park, California-based landscape architect, believes we should cherish our own unique heritage.

Take his renovation of a garden in San Luis Obispo, California.

The house had a "certain Martha's Vineyard charm" before its redo (click thumbnail image below left).

But it was fighting its architectural style and ignoring the beautiful surrounding scenery instead of borrowing the landscape as a backdrop.

Using stone, plants, and paint, Smith restored the Arts and Crafts character of the house and visually tied the garden to the tawny hills behind it. 

The front yard

Smith began by removing the picket fence and digging up the yard. He then elevated the garden's base, placing it behind a front retaining wall.

"Presenting the garden on a pedestal like this is very typical of the Arts and Crafts era," Smith explains.

Next: Tying it together


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