Landscaping and the Environment

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 paso robles past & present
WRITTEN BY CAROLYN M. RUNYON    PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS LESCHINSKY
 
When Jeffrey Gordon Smith, of Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture in Los Osos, California, began this project, his primary challenge was to blend the new landscape design with the existing remarkable countryside. “The area has a Mediterranean climate but tends to be dryer,” Smith explains. “We wanted to introduce plant and architectural elements that would be comfortable in that type of setting. Part of the landscape architectural details had been created years ago by the current owner’s grandfather. We needed to enhance the living space and include a new and modern pool, while retaining most of the traditional features that were there.”
 When the ground is tilled to create a vineyard, native stone is cast loose from the dirt. The owner had a huge collection of these discarded stones from local vineyards, and Smith was able to use them to continue the historical walls along the property. “These stones often contain whalebone or other fossils and add an interesting touch to a wall,” says Smith. “We also tucked some local succulents, like California chalk lettuce, into niches in the wall after filling the space with soil. These plants are native to the area and tend to grow in rocky terrain or canyon walls naturally.”
 The stone around the pool needed to be a more specific and controllable shape so Smith used locally quarried Adelaide stone, tying the flavors of both the natural vineyard stone and the quarried stone together with color. “Both the natural stone and quarried stone represent the colors of the existing landscape, and thus create a connection to the natural elements all around the winery,” Smith explains. “The home, located on several acres, has sweeping views of the surroundings. We wanted the new landscape to look as if it belonged to those surroundings.” The stone also gives a beautiful, warm architectural feel to the design.
El Paso de Robles (Pass of the Oaks), nestled in the coastal mountain range of Central California, is close to mountains, beaches, and deserts. Located midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Paso Robles, as it is called, is also a convenient gateway to several thriving metropolitan areas. An important producer of California olive oil and almonds, the city’s unique climate with long, mild autumns and often early springs, is perfect for wine growing—a craft that was started in the area in the late 1700s and continues today.
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Landscape Architecture in Los Osos, California, began this project, his primary challenge was to blend the new landscape design with the existing remarkable countryside. “The area has a Mediterranean climate but tends to be dryer,” Smith explains. “We wanted to introduce plant and architectural elements that would be comfortable in that type of setting. Part of the landscape architectural details had been created years ago by the current owner’s grandfather. We needed to enhance the living space and include a new and modern pool, while retaining most of the traditional features that were there.”

 When the ground is tilled to create a vineyard, native stone is cast loose from the dirt. The owner had a huge collection of these discarded stones from local vineyards, and Smith was able to use them to continue the historical walls along the property. “These stones often contain whalebone or other fossils and add an interesting touch to a wall,” says Smith. “We also tucked some local succulents, like California chalk lettuce, into niches in the wall after filling the space with soil. These plants are native to the area and tend to grow in rocky terrain or canyon walls naturally.”
The stone around the pool needed to be a more specific and controllable shape so Smith used locally quarried Adelaide stone, tying the flavors of both the natural vineyard stone and the quarried stone together with color. “Both the natural stone and quarried stone represent the colors of the existing landscape, and thus create a connection to the natural elements all around the winery,” Smith explains. “The home, located on several acres, has sweeping views of the surroundings. We wanted the new landscape to look as if it belonged to those surroundings.” The stone also gives a beautiful, warm architectural feel to the design.
The stone walls are made of native stones that are released when the ground is tilled for planting grapes. Several local vineyards contributed their stones to the owner, creating a pile that was 500 feet long by thirty feet wide and eight feet high. Blended with newer quarried stone along the pool itself, the look seamlessly combines the history with the present.
Take Note
Jeffrey Gordon Smith believes in marrying a landscape design to the existing environment. He feels a homeowner should celebrate what he or she has, rather than try to change what occurs there naturally. Here are some of his tips for a successful landscaping project.
 
• As you create a new landscape, you are literally painting it with plants. Look at the colors of the native plants and of the existing landscape and use them as inspiration.
 
• Listen to the land. If it’s rather dry, don’t try to use plants that need a lot of water. They won’t survive, even with constant maintenance, and they will simply look out of place. If your home is in the mountains, look for design features and plants that emulate the region. If it’s at the beach, research what grows there and what natural elements exist. The challenge is to connect the new with whatever has been there for decades… to marry the two worlds harmoniously into one.
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