A Word About Landscape Architecture and Garden Design

Posts tagged ‘Brooks Kolb’

Brooks Kolb’s Hood Canal Garden featured in the Seattle Times “Pacific NW” Magazine

Seattle Landscape Architect Brooks Kolb’s landscape renovation for a site in tiny Holly, on Hood Canal, was featured in the October 19, 2014 Fall Home Design issue of the Seattle Times’ “Pacific NW” Magazine. Owner Paige Stockley’s enthusiasm for Holly and for the amazing waterfront property she found and purchased there proved exactly the catalyst Brooks needed to do some of his best work. The highly diverse site is heavily wooded alongside its entrance at the road, from which it descends to a wetland, a lawn, a beach front, and a working salmon stream.

Brooks brought in the environmental team of Tom and Kathy Smayda, a hydraulic engineer and wetland biologist respectively, to restore the salmon stream and rescue the beach from erosion. After Paige obtained a Kitsap County permit to unclog a large culvert under the highway, chum salmon returned in droves for the first time in years. Tom artfully reshaped the banks of the creek, enabling nature to take over and finish the job on its own time. Kathy helped Brooks generate native planting palettes for the wetland, creek banks and beach areas.

Andrew Borges, architect, designed a Cape Cod-influenced beach house and small adjoining guest house for Paige, raised on stilts above the floodplain, so Brooks also had an ornamental landscape to design. The resulting plan features a large lawn for beach-front entertaining, bordered with shrubs and perennials, including one of Paige’s favorite ornamentals, the Limelight Hydrangea. A small garden surrounding a swale bordered by rocks and Rhododendrons links the main house to the guest house, knitting both together with a gravel parking court.

Interior Designer:  Michelle Burgess; Landscape Contractor: Madrona Point Landscaping.  All photographs by Benjamin Benschneider

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This project was previously published in the October 2013 issue of “Coastal Living” Magazine – see the earlier related blog entry.


“Growing Gracefully” – A Brooks Kolb North Capitol Hill Garden Featured in “Pacific NW” Magazine

The Entry Gates – all photos by Seattle Times Photographer, Mike Siegel

Seattle Landscape Architect Brooks Kolb was once again featured in the Seattle Times’ “Pacific NW” Magazine on September 7, 2014, in an article by the noted Times garden writer, Valerie Easton. Titled “Growing Gracefully, A Redesign mixes the best of old and new,” the column lead with the following paragraphs:

“It’s not often a landscape architect gets another shot at a garden he designed years ago. But when horticulturist Sue Nicol was hired to come up with a fresh plant palette for an aging Capitol Hill garden, she asked Brooks Kolb to collaborate with her on the project. And it turns out that Kolb, along with his partner, Bill Talley, had renovated the garden in 1997 for an earlier owner.” ….New owners Don and Marty Sands “remodeled the (1932 brick Tudor) inside and out, then turned their attention to updating the garden. The couple appreciated the dramatic entry gates, as well as the matuing Japanese maples, Korean dogwoods and Hinoki cypress from the earlier renovation. Marty loves how the garden wraps around the house ‘like a little haven.’ And she calls the majestic copper beech that dominates the scene ‘a Grandfather tree.’”

Since the house is located on the corner of a curving street near Interlaken Boulevard, Brooks loved the original opportunity to remove a scruffy lawn, replacing it with a path that curves parallel to the road, connecting several distinct garden rooms along the way.

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All photos by Seattle Times Photographer, Mike Siegel:  The House and Rockery from the Street; the Entry Gates

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The Birdbath with Japanese Forest Grass; Owners Marty and Don Sands

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The Fountain in 1997; The Fountain Today, with its Lily Bud Jet

Inteviewing Brooks, Valerie asked, “What was it like for Kolb to re-imagine a garden he designed long ago? ‘It’s a wonderful chance to come back in and retool a garden,’ he says. He planted a necklace of new daphnes around the old fountain and left alone the huge white wisteria growing on the hefty arbor at the side of the house.”

Brooks also relished the opportunity to work collaboratively with Sue Nicol, whose contributions to the jointly designed planting plan included the “intensely fragrant” Daphne bholua and ‘Korean Apricot’ chrysanthemums, among many other selections. Brooks has collaborated with Sue for her horticultural and arborist expertise on a number of Seattle area garden designs.

Brooks Kolb’s Blue Ridge Garden Featured in “Pacific NW”

In a story titled “Fairy Tale on a Hill,” Seattle Times garden writer Valerie Easton described Seattle Landscape Architect Brooks Kolb’s recent Blue Ridge garden in the May 4, 2014 issue of “Pacific NW” magazine. When Brooks first viewed the property in 2009, the dilapidated stone path to the fairy tale house pierced through such a dense, dark tangle of trees that it might have led Hansel and Gretel to the big bad wolf. Still, there was much charm in the low fieldstone walls and haphazard flagstone paving. The beautiful 1925 Tudor house, with its mixed stone and clinker brick chimney built from materials partly found on site, needed to be revealed in all its glory.

Brooks edited out trees, allowing others like a giant Coulter Pine and a tall Larch to take the limelight. He widened the paths, adding bluestone steps, stone benches with thick bluestone caps, and a thick new wood gate. The fieldstone walls were reshaped and, perhaps most successfully, two existing artisanal stone pillars, mixed with river rock and brick, were replicated to frame the gate. Now giant pine cones grace the wall caps, serving as companions to the graceful copper frogs on the original pillars. But the garden doesn’t stop at this re-worked entry; it sweeps around the house to a large lawn and then descends abruptly to a lower law nestled against a greenbelt maintained by Seattle Parks and Recreation. The natural patina of a mature Pacific Northwest garden, with plenty of ferns and moss, graces all the grounds.

Here’s a link to the full article:  http://seattletimes.com/html/pacificnw/2023387569_0504nwlbrillongarden1xml.html


Entering the garden


The fairy tale house revealed



Owner Maureen Brillon and Garden Writer Valerie Easton enjoy the sunny garden

Gabion Walls in Landscape Construction


Little used in the Pacific Northwest except for highway projects, a terrific landscape construction device called a gabion wall is used to great effect in gardens and parks in Europe.  Gabion walls can either be free-standing space dividers or they can retain steep slopes.  The concept is simple:  rather than using heavy, giant boulders to retain soil, you make a metal wire cage and fill it with much smaller rocks.  The inert mass of the caged rocks holds the slopes in place.

For an enterprising client in Bellingham, Washington who had admired gabion walls when she lived for several years in Germany, Seattle landscape architect Brooks Kolb designed the three-tiered wall system pictured below at the client’s cottage overlooking Bellingham Bay.

Although gabions are usually filled with any commonly available rock, Ocean Pearl stone from Marenakos Rock Center was selected to line the top and front of the cages, while basalt rock filled the invisible backs.  The blue-gray color of the Ocean Pearl stone harmonizes with a similar retaining wall in the back garden.  The planting terraces behind the gabions were backfilled with drain rock and a top layer of organic soil to provide an extensive rooting zone for a diversity of shrubs and ground covers.  When finished, the end result will be an elegant terraced slope unlike any landscape in the neighborhood.  Rock construction was by Russ Beardsley (see related blog article), and the custom fence was built by Tony Keslau to a design by Brooks Kolb.


Gabion Walls in Progress, March, 2013

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Planting Nearly Finished, September, 2013