“We were attracted to the site’s natural beauty and the incredible view of the Santa Barbara Channel. We wanted to
create a home and garden that had a minimal impact and honored the land.”–Client.
Isabelle, clients, and architect teamed up together from the start to preserve the valuable natural features of the site, including many centuries-old craggy oaks. To minimize the amount of grading needed to the steep slope, the house was built on a long narrow shelf. Where changes to the lay of the land were necessary, Isabelle designed uniquely shaped, custom retaining walls to maintain the grade around the trees, and foundations and trenching work were kept at a safe distance from them. She delved into the engineering to “guarantee” that the building program would not harm the oaks.
At the rear of the house, the cliff face was exposed and shaped into a sculptural feature for viewing from the interior rooms. Cascading from the rock is a flow of water, like a mountain spring, that collects in a deep pool on the stone courtyard floor. At the courtyard edge, a staircase cut directly into the cliff winds up it to a bench under oaks with a panoramic view, and up some more onto the wild mountain slope.
Every plant chosen to provide shade, color, screening, ground cover, and seasonal interest was chosen from the California native palette (a few plants in the cutting garden are not natives); some plants, including native grasses, were harvested right from the property. Attentive to fire and erosion hazards, Isabelle thinned out or removed the most flammable natives on the site and covered the spaces with exceedingly fire retardant plants.
The garden is light on water usage, changes majestically with the seasons, birds and other wildlife flock to it, and to date, not one of the oaks has suffered. “Isabelle Greene did a truly amazing job integrating native plants and the materials of the site to enhance and restore the integrity of the property.”
Nine acres; three-year project, completed 2001