Project: classical garden overlooking the California coast

Photos of the installed garden are available under Portfolio: Classical Garden

The garden design for this elegant Tudor style hillside home in Berkeley was both intriguing and challenging. Beyond the garden walls views across hills were spectacular, but the garden was in shambles. A mish-mosh of separate areas with no connection between them, oddly shaped and neglected, it rambled over a hillside slope which was both an asset and a problem.

The challenge was how to pull everything together in a unified style that would enhance the English Tudor home and set off the beautiful views beyond the garden.

Our concept embraces the historic European architecture with a classically styled garden. Sculpted hedges bring structure and form to frame separate sections, creating a grouping of garden rooms. Each room has both a unique feel and a deep connection with the garden as a whole. Through continuity of formal design, plant material and color choices, everything works together to present an elegant classical garden.

Sketch of entry area with Purple Plum allée we designed. White barked Birch stand in a grove we created beyond. In the foreground a Rose and evergreen hedge encircles a gravel patio we placed alongside the Weeping Mayten.

Sketch of entry area with Purple Plum allée we designed. White barked Birch stand in a grove we created beyond. In the foreground a Rose and evergreen hedge encircles a gravel patio we placed alongside the Weeping Mayten.

The entry to the garden was through a wall that separated the property from the street. We worked with some of the large trees which were on site - weeping Mayten, large Camellia shrubs, and Himalayan Birch, and to these added Weeping Cherry and Agonis. Scattered Birch were transplanted and grouped to make a grove. Purple plums were added to existing ones forming an allée along the entry steps.

Entry area with steps, BEFORE.

Entry area with steps, BEFORE.

Sketch of Camellia, Rose and miniature evergreen hedges encircling a small gravel patio which we envisioned under the weeping Mayten. In the background are the columns of Pittosporum with Choisya and dwarf Green Tower Boxwood we placed along the wall.

Sketch of Camellia, Rose and miniature evergreen hedges encircling a small gravel patio which we envisioned under the weeping Mayten. In the background are the columns of Pittosporum with Choisya and dwarf Green Tower Boxwood we placed along the wall.

Repeating hedges of Camellia, Rose and miniature evergreens to encircle a pea gravel patio which we added, we transformed an oddly shaped area of clumsy stone embankments. We hid nearby unsightly wooden terraces with billowing evergreen dwarf Pittosporum groundcover. Along the wall which separates the property from the street we placed groupings of Large columnar Pittosporum, Choisya ternata shrubs and dwarf Green Tower Boxwood, adding form, enhancing privacy, and hiding a street lamp.

Area under the weeping Mayten, BEFORE.

Area under the weeping Mayten, BEFORE.

Sketch of mixed conventional and columnar hedging we used to hide the wooden fencing and create an illusion of depth. Alongside this is the pond we wreathed with dwarf Agapanthus and a fern corsage.

Sketch of mixed conventional and columnar hedging we used to hide the wooden fencing and create an illusion of depth. Alongside this is the pond we wreathed with dwarf Agapanthus and a fern corsage.

All along the west side of the entry garden was ugly wooden fencing. A mix of conventional and columnar hedging was used to conceal this, and give additional privacy. The layered effect gives an illusion of depth, while the repeated patterning of Pittosporum and Choisya hedging throughout the garden creates a harmonizing quality. The neglected pond was adorned with a garland of dwarf flowering Agapanthus, a corsage of ferns, and filled with water Lilies. Overlooking the pond you see the grove of white barked Himalayan Birch we gathered there.

Area of fencing and pond, BEFORE.

Area of fencing and pond, BEFORE.

Sketch of the intimate garden room we created with Weeping Cherry, Camellia, dwarf Agapanthus, Amaryllis and Jasmine. Elegant hedges in diverse shades of green add form, depth, and privacy.

Sketch of the intimate garden room we created with Weeping Cherry, Camellia, dwarf Agapanthus, Amaryllis and Jasmine. Elegant hedges in diverse shades of green add form, depth, and privacy.

Beyond an intriguing archway was a small section of garden, neglected and filled with stones. Here we created an intimate garden room, defined by elegant hedges of soft creme de mint green and dark evergreen, and adorned with flowering trees, shrubs and perennials. Statuesque columns of pale pink Camellia line the inner side of the wall, along with floral displays of Weeping Cheery, Rose, dwarf Agapanthus, Amaryllis, and Jasmine. Layered hedges continue as a backdrop, adding form, depth and privacy throughout and hiding the fence.

Area beyond archway, BEFORE.

Area beyond archway, BEFORE.

Sketch of the Oaks and rolling hillside to the sea framed with hedging, interspersed with softer Choisya and Blossoming Current shrubs. Anemone, Hellebore and Agapanthus flowers were chosen to create flower beds for an ongoing seasonal floral display.

Sketch of the Oaks and rolling hillside to the sea framed with hedging, interspersed with softer Choisya and Blossoming Current shrubs. Anemone, Hellebore and Agapanthus flowers were chosen to create flower beds for an ongoing seasonal floral display.

One of the assets of the garden were the large oaks that bordered the northwest side. Beyond the oaks one sees the rolling hills leading down to the sea. This enchanting view needed to be framed properly. The area was the main entertainment and relaxation space. A low hedge along the brick wall, and on the sides of the patio was envisioned. Echoed with dwarf evergreen and flowering Agapanthus, and adorned with additional flowers of Anemone, Hellebore and others, it was interspersed with Choisya shrubs and laced with Blossoming Current. Rose and Weeping Cherry adorn the hillside area on the southeast side of the patio.

Area adjoining large patio, BEFORE

Area adjoining large patio, BEFORE