A glass firebox is open to both the living room and patio; the concrete floor is embedded with pebbles.
A waterfall and pond lined with black Mexican beach pebbles greet guests arriving at the entry courtyard. To give the area a lush tropical look, Carl planted in vertical layers around the perimeter, relying on leaf color and texture rather than on flowers for interest. She underplanted palms with magenta- and wine-foliaged bloodleaf ( Iresine herbstii) and black-leafed mondo grass ( Ophiopogon planiscapus). Lacy tree ferns, bronze-leafed cannas, bright green Blechnum ferns, and variegated coleus fill in among them.
Though small, the patio has all the amenities of a resort: a dining area, fireplace, pond, outdoor kitchen, and the bar, which was inspired by the casual lifestyle of the tropics.
A queen palm in a small circular planting bed near the dining area presides over the patio's tropical plantings. Shorter palms mixed with tree ferns form a lacy midstory, while passion vines cover the walls and fences. Cycads, Blechnum ferns, and tender baby's tears fill the garden beds.
On chilly evenings, when most locals have moved indoors, the Büchlers' party keeps on going. "If we have the fire going and the heater on," Bruno says, "we're cozy all night."
Design: Debora Carl Landscape Design, Encinitas, CA (760/212-8819); Büchler Construction, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA (760/473-8039)