ISSUE 96  |  Garden to Table

Stone Edge Farm: A Peaceful Retreat in Northern California

November 08, 2013 2:00 PM

BY Michelle Slatalla

In Sonoma County, owners of a sprawling property with a vineyard, an olive orchard, and an organic farm that supplies local restaurants bought a contiguous parcel of land about ten years ago and decided to use the 3.5-acre parcel as a retreat:

The challenge for San Francisco-based landscape architect Andrea Cochran (a member of the Remodelista + Gardenista Architect/Designer Directory) was to create a landscape capable of visually connecting the site’s three dramatic structures–an observatory housing a 20-inch telescope, a spa building and lap pool, and a 100-foot-long asymmetrical pyramid sculpture.

Photographs via Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture.


Above: Allees of olive trees lead to the new observatory. The property, a former Northern California commune, came with several established California bay trees, oaks, and buckeyes. A nearby creek flooded the property seasonally.


Above: To reach the spa building requires a walk along a winding path.

For more spectacular Northern California landscape design, see “Rescuing a 100-Year-Old Garden.”


Above: Drought tolerant perennials grasses (L) form a meadow that links the spa building and the observatory, both constructed of Corten steel that develops a natural rust color when exposed to the elements. At the edge of the lap pool (R) grows Chondropetalum, a grass-like plant also known as Cape Rush.


Above: The terrace of the lap pool is sandwiched between the olive grove and the meadow.


Above: The raised lap pool, 80 feet long, is designed as a fulcrum that connects the spa building and the observatory.


Above: The pyramid sculpture was built using native alluvial stones unearthed during construction.


Above: A goal of the project was to protect and preserve the old rows of gnarled olive trees.

For another peaceful retreat, see “ Privacy Please: A Garden Where Trees and Shrubs Hide the Neighbors.”

N.B.: This is an update of a post originally published Nov. 19, 2012.