The Eagle Creek Residence is a landscape remodel that radically transforms an existing concrete driveway and parking area into a diverse natural landscape. Masses of Yarrow, Penstemon and Buckwheat and other water-wise perennials border a slate terrace that frames a sunken emerald green infinity lawn. The covered breezeway is replaced by a beautifully crafted steel arbor frames stunning views of the ridge above separating a series of small intimate seating areas in the terraced boulder garden above from the active family spaces on the terrace and lawn below. The old garage, freed from its concrete apron, was repurposed into a family space and guesthouse and its glaring white roof transformed into a soft green living roof covered with native grasses and wildflowers.
The native landscape around the house, in contrast to the informality of the restoration, unfolds in a series of organized meadows and wooded glades carefully planted with plugs of Idaho Fescue, native perennials and shrubs. Gravel and mulched paths weave in and out of remnant cottonwood forest and planted groves of large Aspen, winding through drifts of native wildflowers and formal blue grass lawns. At it’s heart, an entry courtyard, divided into small intimate spaces by three steel walls and bisected small swales and a dramatic walkway of huge stone slabs some over 12 ft. in length unites the formal with the informal. Throughout it all whimsy and diversity prevail fashioned out of rotting logs planted with strawberries, hot tubs hidden by the fallen root ball of an ancient cottonwood Aspen glades that invite nature to take up residence on site and humans to stand and wonder.
The old world family compound is defined by a large rectangular courtyard created by the two wings of the house connected by a large open great room. A skirt of granite cobblestone wraps into the first ten feet of the courtyard. Adjacent- an ornamental gravel terrace, covered with beige crushed limestone planted with lavender, enhances the old world effect. The terrace, shaded by a specimen maple tree, provides an outdoor seating area for residents of the guest wing and an entry terrace for the wedding meadow to the East. In the interior of the courtyard strong organized plantings of Calamagrostis 'Karl Forester' bracket an emerald green lawn-their amber seed heads contrasting beautifully with the weathered barnwood of the buildings. Looking across the lawn from the great room the long sweep of the wedding meadow flows in drifts of white Yarrow, blue Flax and purple Penstemon.
To increase the outdoor entertainment area a large rectangular water proof steel box was built extending from the pond’s edge over 15 feet into pond. This box, filled with structural material and topsoil, became the platform for an expanded patio, fire pit, and series of steel edged rectangular areas covered alternately in turf, decomposed granite, perennials, shrubs and ornamental grasses designed to provide seasonal interest and privacy from the nearby golf course.
Turf was removed the from beneath the trees and soils loosened and amended with compost. The stream was then contoured and lined with a PVC pond liner and a recirculation stream system installed. Ten tons of rounded lichened boulders were carefully placed along the stream and into the landscape , the cobble replaced and small gravel bars established in the eddies. A wide variety of shade loving perennials, groundcovers, sedges and grasses were then planted along the stream and as woodland plantings beneath the trees. Paths covered with crushed gravel were established from the front drive and extended across the stream to give access to a small sunny lawn on the edge of the pond.
Constructed as an informal back entrance to the house the thick plastered courtyard walls and the stone clad walls on the home soak up the sun’s warmth during the day and radiate it out at night moderating nighttime temperatures in the spring to insure early blooms survive late frosts and providing extra heat in the fall. The protection from the wind afforded by courtyard walls also creates an important microclimate that allows the use of unusual species of plants, extends the bloom season of flowering perennials and preserves soil moisture.
Inside the walls a wide variety of herbs, fruit and other perennials create a lush refuge from the outside world. Espaliered apple trees, usually exiled to warmer climates, thrive against the stone walls while sweet smelling lavender, thyme and oregano line the walkways. Along the east wall a built in fountain, surrounded by clematis and climbing rose, spills water filling the courtyard with the gentle sound of falling water. And in every direction a riotous bloom of Yarrow, Echinacea, Coreopsis, Daylily and Blackeyed Susans provide year round color. Heavy old world doors and a rustic wooden pergola draped with Virginia creeper, turning bright red in the cool fall air complete the composition.
Installed as part of a large remodel, the new stone terrace and surrounding gardens replace a small dark patio of concrete pavers flanked by concrete retaining walls and 30 year old Colorado Spruce. The patio was extended by several hundred square feet and the slope adjoining the patio on the South side was sloped and retained with an informal rock garden composed of large sandstone boulders. Concrete pavers were replaced with a random pattern of cut sandstone paving stones giving the new patio an old world feeling. Where the rectangular patio meets the informal rock garden an undulating strip of smooth ornamental gravel provides a beautiful edge and drainage for the patio.
The beautiful rock garden has been planted for season long interest with a large variety of ornamental perennials chosen for the textural interest, flowers and compact habit. These include perennial Geranium, Anemone, Aster, Kinininick, Oregon Grape, Sedums as well as the low growing Hillside Creeper pine.
The Hideaway Residence is a Japanese inspired, ecologically based landscape in central Idaho’s arid mountains. The rigorous application of ecological principles at the core of the design proves the hypothesis that sustainability can be the organizing principle in a beautiful and functional landscape design.
The powerful story of water conservation is told through a dry stream bed planted with sedges, iris and spirea that winds through an Aspen grove and meadow finally pouring into the blue grey gravel pool of a Zen inspired meditation garden- the serene center of the landscape. The “pool” is elegantly bracketed by an arrangement of floating boardwalks giving access to the cedar hot tub and basalt fire pit patio. In the center of the composition, an evocative serpent sculpture created from torrent scoured basalt boulders is paired with a basalt column where evocative singular drops of water splash onto smooth, water worn pebbles in a naturally carved basalt basin.
After 4 seasons the Hideaway landscape uses 50% less water than a comparably sized conventional landscape. Self-seeding, natural weed suppression and other markers of successful natural regeneration and succession are evident. Maintenance labor has dropped to 3-6 hours a week on this 2-acre property, a stark contrast to the maintenance required for conventional landscapes of this size.
The remodeled back patio was imagined as an extra room in the house. Simple, unadorned, and elegant materials were chosen to reflect those used elsewhere in the architecture. The walls of the “patio” room were made of massive concrete and steel planters. Recycled timber benches sharply arranged in distinct lines mirror the lines of the house. A soft sand finished brown concrete patio scored with simple arching lines echoes the distinctive curved wall of the house.
Between the patio and planters a decomposed granite terrace provides a contrasting texture underfoot and a steel fountain, set on the patio, obscures the sound of the highway with the soothing sound of falling water. Planters are filled with a simple palette of native and drought tolerant grasses, shrubs and perennials manifestly structural in nature their dramatic contrasts in color, scale, form, creating an oasis of beauty and form in a lush tangle of the riparian environment all around.