A Word About Landscape Architecture and Garden Design

Posts tagged ‘Seattle landscape architect’

Seattle Landscape Architect Brooks Kolb’s Mercer Island Garden Featured in Issue #22 of “Gray” Magazine

Designed by SHKS Architects, the Yoga Studio at Brooks Kolb’s Mercer Island Garden was featured in “Gray” Magazine. Here’s a link: http://issuu.com/graymag/docs/gray_n0._22_jj15/93?e=3579295/13295684

Brooks designed a garden of native and ornamental ferns around the Yoga Studio, with nurse logs on the forest floor. The building appears to float above the ground. Here’s a photograph of the landscape as viewed from the studio, taken by Ben Benschneider of the Seattle Times, which originally appeared in “Pacific NW” Magazine.

The metal sculpture in the background is by celebrated Portland artist Lee Kelly.



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.

The Garden at “Le Sousmont” in France

Seattle landscape architect Brooks Kolb writes:

In the summer between my junior and senior years of high school, I had spent a couple of months in France with my French great aunt, first at her apartment in Paris, and then at her country home in the small town of St. Aignan-sur-Cher. Located in the heart of the Loire Valley chateau country, known as “the valley of the kings,” St. Aignan is a picturesque town that boasts both a 16th Century renaissance chateau and an adjacent twelfth-century church, with belfries and parapets high above the Cher river. I immediately fell in love with the town, and especially with Aunt Muguette’s picturesque U-shaped house surrounding a walled garden on two levels. The first morning I heard the “Angelus,” the beautiful song of the church bells, I was enchanted and my enchantment quickly turned into a wonderful summer of exploration and family fun with my young French cousins.

Now, flash-forward to May, 2014, and I had the opportunity once again to stay in my aunt’s lovely house, which is now a bed and breakfast run by a delightful couple, Marie-France and Richard Caillaud. Once again I fell in love with the house and with the intimate, medieval character of St. Aignan. But what astonished me was what the Caillauds have done with the garden. Its bones – parterres of low Boxwood hedges separated by gravel paths under the shade of a large Horse Chestnut tree – were exactly as I remembered from my first visit, but the Caillauds have made something wonderful with the garden beds between and behind the parterres. Now with their Hydrangeas, perennials and Mahonias, I can’t imagine a lovelier place for strolling than the upper garden; nor for sipping a glass of local Tourraine rose than on the terrace below the lovely curving stone steps.

Why is the house called “Le Sousmont?” Quite simply, my aunt named it that in tribute to the person who owned it before her, a World War I-era American gentleman named Dr. Underhill. “Sousmont” means “under the mountain” (or under the hill) in French. If you decide to book a room there, Monsieur and Madame Caillaud await you with terrific hospitality.


The chateau viewed from the lower garden


The upper garden with the chateau beyond


The upper garden parterres


The house enfolds the garden, with the medieval church beyond


The garden from the third floor, with the chateau and church beyond


Le Soumont from the street, with its rose vines – you would never know there is an enchanting garden beyond!



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

Hellebores are the Harbingers of Spring

Along with fragrant Winter Daphnes and crocuses, Hellebores are one of the main harbingers of Spring in Seattle gardens.  Many gardeners are crazy about Hellebores, valuing the pastel shades of their flowers, which look like they were painted on with water colors.  A naturally bashful plant, the Lenten Rose (Helleborus orientalis,) which is not at actually a rose, points its flowers downward, as if too modest to aim them at your eye.  Many hybrids of the Oriental Hellebore cover a gamut of white, chartreuse, pale pink and rose pink shades.  Seattle landscape architect Brooks Kolb’s favorite Hellebore, though, is the Corsican Hellebore (Helleborus argutifolius.)  This is a work-horse of a flowering shrub:  It blooms in late February and holds its flowers in view well into the summer months.  Many people would discount it for having a light-green flower, but when it first blooms, that burst of light green is so lively and iridescent that it shouts, “spring is here!”  Framed by the darker leaves, the flowers just pop out at you.  And this plant also has heft:  it’s great for filling spaces where you need something that will get about three feet tall.


Helleborus orientalis Hybrids – Lenten Rose


Helleborus argutifolius – Corsican Hellebore


Corsican Hellebore, flower detail

Fences and Trees

What do you do when the fence alignment you’re planning is blocked by a tree or another large object?  Most clients tend to assume you either have to cut down the tree or move the fence.  Seattle Landscape Architect Brooks Kolb advises otherwise.  Often you can adapt the fence design to the tree’s position.  To share with you a particularly extraordinary example, Brooks designed a fence in the Mount Baker neighborhood of Seattle to envelop the gigantic limb of a mature Western Red Cedar.  While the tree limb itself provided good visual screening of an alley from the client’s back yard, it did nothing to keep their large dog safe from running out into traffic.  Here’s a photograph of the stunning solution, which reminds Brooks of the Chinese puzzle of rock/paper/scissors.  Which element is conquering the other, the tree or the fence?Image