Notes from designer and Landscape Manager – Matt Ripley

This site burned completely to the ground in the 2017 Santa Rosa Fires and when I first visited the land it was an ashy barren area with extremely rocky soil which had been scraped of all the debris and top soil. After an in depth site overhaul and our design work it was awarded First Place in the 2021 CLCA North Coast Chapter Installation Sweepstakes.

First I completed thorough soil analysis and created a plan for amending the soil which was a particularly challenging combination of rock, clay, and ash. Next I worked with the client to establish the vision for the property which was to be as vibrant, colorful, and energetic as possible.

Taking inspiration from the legendary design theories of Piet Oudolf while providing a Sonoma County twist which includes many plants from Oudolf’s own lists while incorporating many CA natives. Various areas are color themed to play off the colors of the wines created on site and served in the tasting areas both above and within the garden itself. Oudolf’s principle of the ‘4 Seasons Garden’, which showcases the architectural beauty of the plantings year round, also heavily factored into my plant selections with much attention paid to the beauty of regenerative decay in fall. Just as the summer blooms start to fade a new set of golden brown colors catch the light as birds perch upon the seed heads of perennials for their fall feast.

The overarching focus of my plant selection was for natives and ornamentals which attract humming birds, butterflies, pollinators, and beneficial insects which not only breathe energy into the gardens but also provide biodiversity which supports the health of the surrounding vineyards through integrate pest management. Beehives are located just outside the winery meadow to provide nesting habitat while also harvesting honey for tasting pairings and gifts at the winery.

The upper gardens are an unabashed display of perpetual blooms which cascade dynamic colors from early spring all the way to the first frosts of winter. The land faces south west and is swept by winds pushed from the coast which visibly rolls over the contours of the land so I designed planting layout to illustrate this flow of air across the area. Bands of color stretch across the landscape weaving with ebbs and flows and swaying in the breeze as it passes through. Rustic flagstone slab pathways wind through the plantings to a lower tasting area while a large balcony serves as the main tasting and viewing area hovering just above the tallest flowers.

The pond garden is highly focused on native plants which provide lush green atmospheres with highlights of color and remains focused on attracting humming birds, butterflies, and local pollinators. The layout and plant selections pay homage to Claude Monet’s pond paintings with an arching bridge, canoe, and banks lined with grasses and sprawling blooms. Native Sage, Goldenrod, Spiraea, Mazanita, CA Fuschia, Ceanothus, Sedge, Festuca, Buckwheat and more showcase the elegance of our native plants while providing essential habitat for local fauna.

In the images below, see three other before (right side) and after (left side) photos below, plus some of our favorite angles of the landscape mid-summer.

Installation as part of the team at Gardenworks Inc.

See Below for Before and After Photos!

See Below for Before and After Photos!