Magazine article Sunset

Before & After

Magazine article Sunset

Before & After

Article excerpt

Beauty and the beast

This Carmel Valley garden cloaked a tough slope with color

* Color is everywhere you look in Penny Wood's garden in Carmel Valley, California. Red wicker chairs and a brilliant cobalt blue birdbath add punch to the tangle of bright perennials that edges the back of her house. Lemon yellow chairs with blue cushions add cheerful notes on the deck. And throughout the garden, clusters of beautiful blooms come and go with the seasons--irises, lilacs, and peonies in spring, roses and hydrangeas in summer, and a host of perennials in fall. The effect is joyous and casual, and just what Wood wanted. "I love color, chaos, and commotion," she says.

But creating this garden on a beast of a slope took vision. Wood describes the area as "1 acre plunging straight downhill"--it is also sunny, west-facing, and buffeted by winds.

For help, Wood called on landscape designers Elaine and Mark Schlegel, who built a 10-foot-tall retaining wall about 30 feet downhill from the house and another one not far from the back of the house. Behind the walls, they installed a system of drainpipes and a layer of crushed rock to enhance drainage. Then they backfilled with layered soil (half native soil, half a quality topsoil mix). …

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