Vista Garden was the second property I visited last Saturday as part of Marin County Open Garden Day sponsored by The Garden Conservancy.
The description in the official program sounded fantastic:
Sited on a plateau with sweeping views of Mt. Tamalpais and surrounding canyons, Vista Garden is a balance of engaging outdoor rooms and dramatic sub-tropical plantings. The entry features a heritage oak and unique use of Arbutus marina as privacy screening. A grove of Australian tree ferns and specimen agaves suggest something more eccentric is ahead. The front garden is framed by native quercus and specimen olive trees that sit within a modern framework of bold, textural sweeps of foliage including asplenium, miscanthus, liriope, equisetum, and a ‘meadow mix’ of sun-loving perennials and exotics. The hidden sitting area is tucked behind a prehistoric equisetum hedge and showcases an agave collection that leads guests to the Vista Walk. This quiet, shady, path lined with bambusa and variegated phormiums opens up to the Vista Terrace, revealing a stunning view of Mt. Tam framed by timber bamboos on the slope below. The Vista Terrace features a collection of succulents and cacti under specimen olive and palm trees. The bamboo-lined pool walk leads to the pool deck that enjoys an overstory of oaks, maples, and palms with a unique selection of cacti and succulents that wrap around the multi-level garden terraces and custom Cor-Ten steel containers.
Tree ferns! Agaves! Bamboo! Palm trees! And more Cor-Ten!
Let’s take a leisurely stroll through front yard and then sneak around the side of the house into the backyard to explore the lovely sights waiting there.
View from the driveway. The house is single story and partially hidden behind vegetation. I loved how understated it looked.
Agave ‘Blue Flame’ at entrance
Bamboo hedge along the side of the garage; the walkway leads to the pool
View of what is technically the front yard, now an enclosed private space
Majestic Agave americana as the centerpiece of the lawn area
View of front door
Agave americana with lavender in the background
Yucca rostrata next to front door
Yucca rostrata and tree ferns
Alternate view of the front of the house
Tree ferns underplanted with foxtail fern (Asparagus densiflorus 'Meyersii')
Water feature diagonally across from front door
I love the elegant simplicity of this water feature
View from the side
Another view of the water feature; notice the horsetail rush (Equisetum hyemale) hedge on the left
Hidden patio behind the the equisetum hedge. Equisetum hyemale is considered to be very invasive but here is was perfectly groomed. I wonder how much maintenance is required to keep it looking so good?
Patio shielded by the equisetum hedge
The same furniture is used in the backyard and poolside. It is actually made of plastic or resin even though it looks like metal.
Agave collection in a raised bed along the perimeter of the property
What a great place to relax, have a drink or read a book!
Agave attenuata next to Equisetum hyemale hedge
View of front of the house from behind the equisetum hedge
One last look before we walk around the side of the house into the backyard. The mass planting of foxtail fern (Asparagus densiflorus 'Meyersii') was a wonderful surprise, creating an almost prehistoric effect.
Another Equisetum hyemale hedge against the house and, on the other side of the narrow walkway, a row of large phormiums, adding another touch of lushness.
Large agave at the far end of the walkway
Glimpse of the backyard through three palm trees
Succulents along the backyard side of the house
Golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii) and black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’). Black mondo grass is also used as filler in other planting beds.
Seating area and fire feature in the backyard
View of seating area with Mount Tamalpais on the left. The vistas were breathtaking, extending seamlessly from the backyard across the canyon.
One of several specimen olive trees
Agaves, aeoniums and sago palms in the foreground, bamboo in the background
Bamboo growing on the hillside below the house
Bambusa oldhamii up against the house
Potted agave on the pool deck (Agave multifilifera?)
View of pool deck and pool house
View across the pool to the main house
The pool house would make a great office or guest quarters!
Plantings next to the pool house
Succulents above the retaining wall
Potted sago palm (Cycas revoluta) underplanted with colorful coleus
Planting against the main house
Walkway from the pool to the driveway. This is the same bamboo hedge you saw at the top of this post.
Tree ferns (Dicksonia antartica) along the driveway
If you read my post on Cor-Ten Zen, the other property I visited on Saturday, you know how much I liked it. The plantings were refined without being fussy and the overall effect was grand but not grandiose.
Vista Garden was even more spectacular as far as I was concerned. I loved the more intimate scale of the house (which was still plenty big) and the landscape design ticked all my boxes—almost as if I had sat down with the designer and told him what I wanted. Truly, a dream property!