Camelias and hydrangeas? No, thank you. Western garden creators like it wild. Lucky for us, our mild coastal climate in the Bay Area means we can use tropical plants (like bromeliads) as we let our imaginations run free.
Example: Designer Christopher Reynolds was given carte blanche when it came to designing a friend's San Francisco backyard.
He took a jungly mess and transformed it into a backyard garden and seating area, completely inspired by the terraces of Machu Picchu.
The stone stacks are multi-purpose, offering little distinction between seating and retaining wall–a feature we really like.
He left the existing palm in the background because "it's super sculptural and created this instant canopy." He also left the loquat trees, thinning them dramatically but leaving branches that you have to dodge and duck to get around to keep around some of the jungly vibe.