It's 90° outside, the sun is blazing, and the sounds of splashing water fill the air. Against a rustic stucco wall, water trickles out of scalloped bowls into a colorful blue fountain bedecked with blazing bougainvillea.
Although it seems like a scene from a remote Mexican village, this 430-square-foot townhouse garden is actually located at the base of the mountains west of Silicon Valley. "Enchanting!" exclaimed a juror. "The garden is a great achievement for such a small space."
The remarkable transformation was no easy task. When owner Londa Patch moved into the townhouse, the 13- by 33-foot-long backyard was weed-infested and dilapidated. Since there was no access to the garden from the back, landscape designer Kathleen Shaeffer had to transfer every piece of concrete and slate and every bag of dirt through the house.
A new, weathered-looking stucco wall accented with an aged wood-and-iron gate hides the old fence. Although the gate leads nowhere, it gives the impression that the garden continues and helps reduce the feeling of confinement. The colorful fountain, a focal point from most rooms in the house, immediately draws attention to the outdoor space. "During the day, it's a bright, sunny jewel," says Shaeffer. "At night, there's a magical quality to the light, shadows, and scent."
DESIGNER: Kathleen Shaeffer, Great Gardens, Santa Cruz, CA (831/423-7849)