Vibrant garden retreat

Bring a lively spirit to your yard with bold lines and vivid colors

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Garden retreat with a punch

Blooming yellow Brugmansia and palm fronds arch over a patio of stained concrete with bands of mortared Mexican pebbles.

Thomas J. Story

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Awash in fiery golds, cooling blues, and a rainbow of other hues, Mario Trejo's garden is as stimulating as it is serene. Its design is also bold, clean-lined, and geometric, to match the look of his house.

When Trejo, a contractor, designed his Craftsman-meets-Mediterranean-style home in Albany, California, he turned for inspiration to the work of Mexican architect Luis Barragán ― whose minimalist style and strong-lined, brightly colored buildings he admires. Venezuelan-born Trejo painted the exterior walls of his house a golden melon hue he calls "mango chutney." Then he chose taupe, dusty purple, and intense red paints as accent colors for fences, trim, and the garage door.

Such a house demanded an equally bold landscape. So Trejo turned to landscape designer David Feix to transform a formerly neglected landscape of unkempt trees, overgrown shrubs, and blackberry vines into a vibrant sanctuary.

Feix designed the garden's layout and stucco seat walls, which he painted in the same colors as the exterior of the house. He also selected a tapestry of highly textural, colorful plants to further brighten the front and backyard (where Trejo enjoys spending most of his outdoor time).

Bold geometry

Squares and rectangles appear throughout the garden and shape three multilevel backyard patios connected by wide stairs. Square marble tiles pave the top level; a rectangular lawn fills the middle level; and on the bottom level, just left of a rectangular pool and planting bed, four large concrete squares are separated by intersecting bands of inlaid stone.

Angular planting beds flank the backyard patios, and low, blocklike walls serve as artistic elements as well as seating. A rectangular fish pond/water garden that runs across the back fence is a focal point from all three levels. In both the back and front yards, gridlike fences painted bright red provide see-through screening.

 

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