One of the most inspiring sites we visited during this year’s annual APLD conference in the Bay Area was a home in the Portola Valley area, called Tah.Mah.Lah. I’d looked up what I could about it ahead of time and was intrigued by what I’d read – designed to be “the greenest custom home” in the United States, it is a net-zero, LEED Platinum certified project whose owners built a home and landscape designed to last 100+ years. We had more than an hour on site (a great improvement over some prior garden visits limited to 25 minutes or less, because of small sized projects and a packed itinerary), and I tried my best to capture some of the most interesting aspects of the house and landscape. (Among other things, I was delighted to see an installation by Patrick Dougherty, which the owners’ little girls have dubbed the “fairy castle.”)
Because there are so many photos, I’ve decided to present them in gallery format, to avoid endless scrolling for readers. The captions provide additional information about the project, but for more details, please visit the Tah.Mah.Lah website, which went live for the first time the day of our visit. Thanks and kudos to landscape architect Thomas Klope, for his inspired implementation of the owners’ vision, as well as to the owners and the builder – all of whom were on site when we visited, providing background, history, and answers to our many questions.
Explore posts in the same categories: Environment
A packed-gravel bocce court greets visitors as they walk up the driveway.
50-gallon cisterns throughout the site are used to store rainwater for irrigation and other uses.
Gravity walls were built of abandoned “quarry waste” limestone boulders found in Minnesota. They are used all over the site.
The interior of the house gives seamlessly to the outdoors. The owners have opened Tah.Mah.Lah for numerous educational tours and fundraisers to promote green energy and construction.
The pool has an adjacent natural pond/bog. To the right, the “fairy castle” built by Patrick Dougherty.
A view up to the house and outbuildings from the pool area.
I loved the simplicity and softness of the native grasses contrasting with the plain wooden walls of the buildings.
Between the garage (with three electric cars) and one of the residential buildings, the owners’ dog greets visitors, and view of the hills behind Tah Mah Lah can be seen.
The owners commissioned new blends of native sod that would need less water. The final products are now available commercially as well, and require 80% less irrigation than a fescue grass lawn would.
A view from the dining room to the outdoors.
Behind the main house, hand-hewn fencing encloses an area for chicken coops and raised vegetable beds (not shown).
Only one area seemed to contain “ornamental” perennial (native) plantings. The project was planned from 2006 – 2008 and completed only in July 2011; over fifty non-native trees were removed from the site prior to the replanting process.
Boulders provide a setting for a small firepit and assist in the grade change from the pool area up to the house.
Native grasses soften the edge of the driveway and the stark simplicity of the buildings constructed from recycled and reclaimed materials.
, Landscape design solutions
Tags: California gardens, D300, green design, Nikon 24-120mm f/4, photography, private gardens, sculpture in the garden, sustainable landscapes
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