Coastal Hideaway

Carpinteria, California
"Our clients affectionately describe their fresh and expressive garden as 'Whimsical Mid-Century Modern'." Leland Walmsley
primary project photo
Coastal Hideaway - Carpinteria, California

Coastal Hideaway

Carpinteria, California
"Our clients affectionately describe their fresh and expressive garden as 'Whimsical Mid-Century Modern'." Leland Walmsley

Our client wanted a garden to evoke memories of his Pasadena childhood home and be sustainable in every way possible.

The plantings in this garden satisfy 3 criteria: (1) plants traditionally used prior to introduction of irrigation (pre-1945) – once established don’t need much watering, (2) food-scaping for people and wildlife, (3) Mediterranean plants, native plants, and succulents to completely replace the thirsty, polluting lawn.

Everything we designed into the garden had to somehow be functional beyond the decorative aesthetic.

Overall, there is a hierarchy of movement, like a musical arrangement with crescendos and a series of climatic reveals that leads one to believe the space is actually much bigger than it is, while the modern formality of the hardscape is punctuated and softened by notes of whimsy.

In this garden, there are subtle, powerful design moves that dictate viewing and circulation. The flow comes to rest in the large step down, circular seating area, where the mountain views invite the mind to day dream among the clouds. The narrow pathway and entrance to the garden opens up to a series of clearly defined outdoor rooms in such a way that they expand the square footage of the home, creating a comfortable extension of interior space spilling out into the garden.

The various focals throughout progressively lead explorers through the space where enchanting reveals and surprising treasures are discovered along the way.

Focals are playful and unexpected; such as a hobbit door that offers support to a distinctly shaped nectarine tree and a spinning seat rock that defies gravity and offers a 360 degree view of the garden and mountains beyond.

We designed and installed a weeping water wall where the water gently trickles, dances and splashes, from a height of 7 feet, feeding several water basins that provide song birds with fresh water to bathe and drink.

This commanding water feature provides pleasing sounds as well as an important and much needed water source for local wildlife and echoes rock formations of the local foothills.

The wall was constructed by a local Santa Barbara artist and master craftsman to look like ruins reminiscent of a once grand estate that must have once graced this parcel, predating the current 1970s home.

Sustainability Highlights
  • The thirsty and polluting lawn areas were completely removed.
  • 30 cu yards of rich topsoil was removed to accommodate better drainage (the area was once an alluvial flood plain). This precious and rich resource was posted on Craig’s List, saving it from landfill while avoiding the costs of removal and dumping. It was put to good use in new raised vegetable beds.
  • The many and various fruit trees provide food and dynamic and changing beauty throughout the seasons as well as protective, cooling shade in summer months.
  • The legacy paddle cactus grove was also posted on Craig’s List. The lucky recipient was glad to dig them up and haul them away himself. Again, saving these beautiful plants from an untimely death, and at no cost to our client for their removal.
  • Plants provide food and habitat to people and wildlife
  • The abundance of food grown adds a whole new social aspect when sharing with neighbors and others at garden exchange events
  • Legacy Plants (fruit trees, roses, camellias) were incorporated into the new design scheme
  • A simple yet elegant bird feeder is suspended from the apricot tree over a catch basin made from an old tractor plow disc mounted atop a tree stump offers a second tier for bird feeding and helps keep seed from landing on and sprouting in the soil below.- This, together with the water wall’s bathing birds, provides hours of entertainment for the clients’ indoor cats as they sunbathe on a pillowed bench in front of the oversized living room windows. (Repurposed items to create art and habitat in the garden.)
  • Liberal use of mulch for weed control, retains soil moisture, reduces maintenance costs, and naturally revitalizes the soil as it breaks down over time.
  • Among the many trees are also many fruit bearing: plum, nectarine, two cherry varieties, Mission & Genoa figs, 4 different apple varieties grafted onto 1 tree (we planted 2 of these, because it was more fun to have eight varieties instead of just 4), one Anna apple, Satsuma mandarin, lemon, orange, apricot, fuyu & Haychiya Persimmons, and pomegranate, along with 3 different blueberries varieties, and seasonal vegetables planted throughout that are blended into the landscape.
  • All tree prunings and removed trees where mulched and spread on site.(3 cu yards)
  • Part of the design includes a lush succulent themed garden that depends solely upon rain fall for its water needs.
  • The existing PVC irrigation was non-functioning. (PVC is not recyclable and is a top 5 carcinogen.) We redesigned and installed a new and much more efficient drip irrigation system that was PVC free (made of recycled and recyclable materials), dramatically reducing water usage and other ongoing maintenance related costs.
  • Zoned “Smart” irrigation calibrates exacting water needs and adjusts to weather and moisture conditions. (Smart Controller , Water Sensor, Sprinklers are “matched” )
  • Replacing the driveway with permeable hardscape paving allows for rain to penetrate and recharge groundwater and feed the new plantings.
  • Mulch from neighborhood pear trees that were taken down (12 cu yards) was spread on site. (Bonus: cost = free and more beautiful than any commercial decorative mulch available for purchase!)
  • Organic Food-scaping protects local ecosystems - no use of toxic fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides
  • LED Lighting – 2 watts per fixture with life expectancy of 20+ years
  • Solar Panel – pumps and recirculates water for the water wall
  • Compost and worm bins
  • Kitchen and shower greywater & outdoor shower helps to irrigate and recharge ground water
  • Rainwater harvesting with rain barrels capturing roof runoff for plant irrigation and recharge ground water
  • "Urbanite" – recycled concrete repurposed as pavers for walkways and paths
  • Recycled flagstone / Use of on-site & local stone
  • Local vendors, contractors and craftsmen employed
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