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The Four-Season Garden: An Enchanting Indoor/Outdoor Landscape in Sonoma County by Terremoto

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The Four-Season Garden: An Enchanting Indoor/Outdoor Landscape in Sonoma County by Terremoto

December 1, 2020

In the design world, you hear a lot about bringing the outdoors in. Less common is the idea of bringing the indoors out. Los Angeles-based landscape architecture firm Terremoto has done just that with this considered project in Sonoma County’s Green Valley, which invites visitors to go outside—and stay a while.

To create a connection between house and garden, Terremoto’s Story Wiggins (the project lead) and Alain Peauroi (principal) took features already incorporated in the home, such as bluestone, and integrated them into the landscape. Additionally, they scattered unique seating and gathering areas throughout the property, such as a cypress timber bench under an ancient apple tree and a milled cypress flex deck with a shade cloth cover.

In Story’s words, the goal was to “suggest ways to be outside without being prescriptive.” That said, because there is no clear front door to the house, the landscape design also had to implicitly guide guests through the site.

Her favorite part of the project? “The seasonality of the space is impossible to capture in photographs, but that’s what makes this project come alive to me,” she says. “The fall and winter light accentuates the oaks and throws shadows around the boulders and sculptural plants. In spring, the almond and apple explode into exuberant bloom in an otherwise sort of stark garden. Summer brings a profusion of colors, textures and scents as well as insect and bird life.”

Photography by Caitlin Atkinson, process shots by Terremoto.

The garden was built on Southern Pomo ancestral territory. Story says the project “pollinates the agricultural and native contexts with contemporary sensibilities and uses.” Manuel Fernandez and his team from Green Footprint Landscaping worked with Story to bring her vision to life.
Above: The garden was built on Southern Pomo ancestral territory. Story says the project “pollinates the agricultural and native contexts with contemporary sensibilities and uses.” Manuel Fernandez and his team from Green Footprint Landscaping worked with Story to bring her vision to life.
The glass doors of the kitchen fully open to bring the surroundings inside and vice versa. SkB Architects of Seattle designed the home, and Ironwood Builders built it.
Above: The glass doors of the kitchen fully open to bring the surroundings inside and vice versa. SkB Architects of Seattle designed the home, and Ironwood Builders built it.
A stone pathway leads to the front gate. Along the sides are soft grasses and Arbutus ‘Marina’ trees.
Above: A stone pathway leads to the front gate. Along the sides are soft grasses and Arbutus ‘Marina’ trees.
The patio shown above is in between the guest and main house. Story and her team cleverly made use of the water tanks in the design. “We used the emergency galvanized water tanks as a backdrop for a mix of xeric plants with an emphasis on form—spoon yucca and deer grass rub elbows with opuntia and sacred datura,” Story explains. (See The Garden Decoder: What Is &#8\2\16;Xeriscaping&#8\2\17;)
Above: The patio shown above is in between the guest and main house. Story and her team cleverly made use of the water tanks in the design. “We used the emergency galvanized water tanks as a backdrop for a mix of xeric plants with an emphasis on form—spoon yucca and deer grass rub elbows with opuntia and sacred datura,” Story explains. (See The Garden Decoder: What Is ‘Xeriscaping’)
The outdoor shower features native grape vines peeking through.
Above: The outdoor shower features native grape vines peeking through.
“We brought boulders into the mix—some massive and some small enough to move by hand—as a sort of nod to the Zen garden and to the continuous process of making and remaking the space,” says Story.
Above: “We brought boulders into the mix—some massive and some small enough to move by hand—as a sort of nod to the Zen garden and to the continuous process of making and remaking the space,” says Story.
One of the only challenges that Story cited with this project was with the shade shown above. “We tried using nursery shade cloth as an alternative to the typical shade sail but it didn’t hold up, so we had to pivot on that experiment.&#8\2\2\1;
Above: One of the only challenges that Story cited with this project was with the shade shown above. “We tried using nursery shade cloth as an alternative to the typical shade sail but it didn’t hold up, so we had to pivot on that experiment.”
The parking area with Sierra gold gravel on the ground.
Above: The parking area with Sierra gold gravel on the ground.
Custom steel planters fabricated by Wyatt Studio.
Above: Custom steel planters fabricated by Wyatt Studio.
When Terremoto’s team first arrived at the property, the house had just been built, leaving the surrounding land feeling like a barren construction site. As Story says, “the main feature was a giant dumpster, accented by bare patches of compacted earth.”
Above: When Terremoto’s team first arrived at the property, the house had just been built, leaving the surrounding land feeling like a barren construction site. As Story says, “the main feature was a giant dumpster, accented by bare patches of compacted earth.”
A process shot of what later became the walkway lined with Arbutus ‘Marina’ trees.
Above: A process shot of what later became the walkway lined with Arbutus ‘Marina’ trees.
“Honestly this was one of those projects where you almost have to pinch yourself because it went so smoothly. We had a wonderful trusting client, incredibly skilled contractors that we love to work with, and a site rich with inspiration,” says Story.
Above: “Honestly this was one of those projects where you almost have to pinch yourself because it went so smoothly. We had a wonderful trusting client, incredibly skilled contractors that we love to work with, and a site rich with inspiration,” says Story.

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