ISSUE 47  |  Dining and Entertaining

Stone Edge Farm: A Peaceful Retreat in Northern California

November 19, 2012 12:00 PM

BY Michelle Slatalla

In Sonoma County, owners of a sprawling property with a vineyard, an olive orchard and an organic farm that supplies local restaurants bought a contiguous parcel of land about ten years ago and decided to use the 3.5-acre parcel as a retreat:

The challenge for San Francisco-based landscape architect Andrea Cochran was to create a landscape capable of visually connecting the site's three dramatic structures—an observatory housing a 20-inch telescope, a spa building and lap pool, and a 100-foot-long asymmetrical pyramid sculpture.

Photographs via Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture.

Above: Allees of olive trees lead to the new observatory. The property, a former Northern California commune, came with several established California bay trees, oaks, and buckeyes. A nearby creek flooded the property seasonally.

Above: To reach the spa building requires a walk along a winding path.

For more spectacular Northern California landscape design, see "Rescuing a 100-Year-Old Garden."

Above: Drought tolerant perennials grasses (L) form a meadow that links the spa building and the observatory, both constructed of Corten steel that develops a natural rust color when exposed to the elements. At the edge of the lap pool (R) grows Chondropetalum, a grass-like plant also known as Cape Rush.

Above: The terrace of the lap pool is sandwiched between the olive grove and the meadow.

Above: The raised lap pool, 80 feet long, is designed as a fulcrum that connects the spa building and the observatory.

Above: The pyramid sculpture was built using native alluvial stones unearthed during construction.

Above: A goal of the project was to protect and preserve the old rows of gnarled olive trees.

For another peaceful retreat, see " Privacy Please: A Garden Where Trees and Shrubs Hide the Neighbors."