Nature leads the way

Columbia River Gorge, OR. This panoramic river area, with its soaring basalt cliffs and striking golden hills, has become a desirable area for vacationers. Most inhabitants attempt to tame the landscape, but the residents of this 2-acre property near The Dalles chose instead to become stewards of the land and to restore the native habitat.

The landscape as well as the structures were designed to have minimum impact on the site. All non-native plants were removed and replaced with native species, such as bluebunch wheatgrass, Penstemon deustus, strict buckwheat, and other shrubs, perennials, and grasses. Some plants were grown from seed specifically collected for the project. Rare species were supplied by regional specialists.

Landscape architect Steven Koch integrated existing land features with others he gently developed to screen buildings and reduce the visibility of traffic. Informal paths circulate throughout the plantings and connect the buildings. The jurors agreed that it is especially stunning. “The landscape looks so natural, you almost forget it was designed,” said one.

DESIGN: Koch Landscape Architecture, Portland ( or 503/286-7175)

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