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Spaces and StructureIn this hilltop Sonoma County garden with Mediterranean-like dry summer heat, shelter is key. Spheres of silvery lavender formalize a naturalistic border of blue California lilacs and other easy-to care-for plants.
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Willow WalkWoven willow fences, made by Bay Area craftsman Neil Curry of the Willow Farm, frame graveled outdoor rooms that are shielded from the intense sun by roof panels of the same willow.
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The OwnersThe style of the garden is informed, in part, by the family's agricultural roots, which reach back four generations into California's Central Valley. Tom Klein and Kate Kelly enjoy their vineyard's Cabernet.
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The PoolOlive trees and a pristine pool frame the view of the hills around the Alexander Valley.
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A WalkwayLarge clipped spheres of teucrium nestle among lavender balls, low olive hedges, and chartreuse stands of euphorbia.
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Well-Edited Plant ListCochran describes this planting style as "Provencal with a California twist." Flowers, such as Ceanothus 'Concha,' are fleeting in the garden.
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Olive GardenEvergreen olive trees and 'Little Ollie' dwarf olive hedges line the house's entrance.
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Natural MixThe garden's signature mix of textural green-, silver-, and blue-leaved plants provides all-season interest.
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Splendor in the Grass
Ornamental grasses flourish on a hillside by the entrance.
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Plants for Texture
Work some of these subtle beauties into your landscape for year-round appeal and less tending than a complex flower bed.
1. Lamb's Ear: This velvety plant is a garden classic. 'Big Ears' has large, floppy leaves.
2. Catmint: Nepeta's crinkled leaves hold their own even without the blue flowers.
3. Sweet Bay: In areas colder than Zone 8, try cherry laurel instead of this hedging plant.
4. Euphorbia: Blue-green leaves support chartreuse flowers in late spring and early summer.
5. Green Horehound: The scalloped foliage of ballota remains sturdy in the hottest weather.
6. Rosemary: Look for the tall, upright 'Tuscan Blue' variety.
7. Teucrium: It's easy to clip this fast-growing silvery germander into a tight ball.
8. Santolina: With its soft needlelike leaves, this fragrant plant forms a natural ball shape.
9. Olive: Choose 'Little Ollie' for its compact habit and willingness to be shaped.
10. Yarrow: The felted-looking leaves of this achillea almost outshine its tiny flowers.
11. Lavender: Cut back these herbs yearly. Try 'Grosso' and 'Hidcote Giant' for impressive displays.
12. Oak-Leaf Hydrangea: This shrub has creased foliage and white flowers that turn pink in fall.