“Foothill Contemporary” was the tag line used to identify another “marquee garden” included on our APLD conference tour in the San Francisco Bay area in September. The description was just about perfect. Designed by Bernard Trainor & Associates, this garden has been featured in any number of magazines and books. Understated in its plantings and simple but impressive use of low-cost hardscape materials (concrete, gravel, and stone), this garden was one of my favorites. I wish the sun had been less glaring, but it was a privilege to visit regardless of how challenging this garden was to photograph.
In planning this post, I came across a wonderful article from a 2007 issue of Fine Gardening Magazine featuring photos of Trainor’s gardens and an interview with him. In it, he speaks about negative spaces and how he strives for simplicity without being a minimalist. To read more about his vision, and to see a photograph of this particular garden at night, click here.
The entry to this garden, with simple concrete pillars and beautiful ironwork gates.
In the rear of the house, a path of broken stone pavers leads to a simple gravel patio. The poured concrete wall, in a S-curve, leads your eye to the dining area beyond, and separates the inner and outer gardens in this part of the landscape.
A screened wooden trellis overhead lets light in but also allows what looks like Virginia creeper to prove some shade from the California sun.
The S-curved wall again, with minimal plantings inside and beautiful trees with exfoliating bark outside.
A bowl with recirculating water provides a focal point.
In the front yard, a gravel and timber path and steps takes the visitor through an area planted with drought-tolerant, soft grasses.
Just beyond the dining area and another poured concrete wall lies a just-right lap pool.
Sun streaming through the trees in the front yard, which resembles more of a meadow than a manicured landscape.
Next to the front door, a vertical wall hanging with its sections filled with different native materials ranging from cork to stones welcomes visitors.