“I’m planning a new garden because a house is going to be dropped down on my existing beds,” a friend wrote, attaching a site plan to the email. “What do you think?”
This was in 2013, soon after my friend and her husband had decided to build a new two-story house on their property in Healdsburg, California (which they had purchased with an existing swimming pool, a small guest house, and a fenced garden plot).
The garden plan by Arterra Landscape Architects showed a neat row of six raised beds, a deer-proof fence, and a sturdy metal gate with an arbor for grapevines. “I have to say, working with a really good landscape architect makes such a difference,” my friend wrote. “They took my sketches that I was so proud of (but now think that they are pathetic childlike drawings) and completely designed a beautiful garden in the same space. It’s amazing how they can see the space in three dimensions.”
Fast forward four years. The new house—designed by Feldman Architecture—is beautiful, a glass jewel box with a wall of windows overlooking the pool and distant hills. As for the garden? Plans changed; instead of moving the old garden, the landscape architects made the old one bigger. It’s crammed with raised beds, nothing neat about them, and my friend these days tends a rambling colorful chaos of flowers and edible plants. Here’s how it looks when the late afternoon sun hits:
Photography by Mimi Giboin for Gardenista.
Every year my friend, who is a devotee of Annie’s Annuals in Richmond, California, adds new varieties of poppies to her collection. The flowers sow themselves and pop up wherever they like the following year.
N.B.: This post is an update; it was first published July 2017.
For more of our favorite Northern California landscapes, see: