How to use playful plantings, rustic materials, and color to inspire your landscape

After living too long on a postage stamp­-size lot, landscape designer Richard William Wogisch unleashed what he calls his “30-year-old desire to have a real garden” when he purchased a hilltop home overlooking the Sonoma Valley.

To maximize the view, he cleared out overgrown trees and shrubs. Then he developed a series of garden rooms using plants and materials that reflect the surrounding area’s agricultural nature.

“I wanted a very regional feel,” he says.

Although the garden’s various plantings have different design themes ― a Mediterranean bed, a contemporary English border, and succulent groupings, for example ― all plants were chosen for deer resistance and their ability to thrive in the valley’s climate.Now the garden is a true creative outlet, from its plants to its playful accents. “If I can spend every hour of the day out there, I’m happy,” Wogisch says.

Design: Richard William Wogisch, Sonoma County (707/588-9912) 

Five great ideas from this garden

1. Bring in materials that celebrate the region. To evoke Sonoma Valley’s agricultural roots, Wogisch used galvanized steel livestock feeding tanks, which give the garden a rural feel. He added holes for drainage, then filled the tanks with plants.

2. Play with color. In each garden room, richly hued plants like phormium, grasses, conifers, and echeveria accent the plots. “I like to use a lot of foliage colors ― flowers are a bonus,” Wogisch says.

3. Paint walls. Because the garden walls serve as backdrops for plants, Wogisch painted them in bold shades such as dark persimmon and rusty red. “I wanted a canvas of fun, earthy colors,” he says.

4. Set containers into beds and borders. Settle them in among surrounding foliage for best effect. They add height, dimension, and color.

5. Break up hardscape. Use planting pockets to soften expanses of paving and to highlight especially showy plants.

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