“I DON’T MISS THE CITY AT ALL,”
Marilyn Coon Stocke, a former schoolteacher who is now a bookkeeper
in Sonoma, says. “I have a become a country girl.”
Her transformation began inadvertently nearly six years ago, when her
architect, George Bevan, invited Healdsburg-based landscape architect
Michael Lucas to help design her weekend garden.
Stocke had owned six neglected acres of Sonoma farmland for 15 years
and was finally ready to build north of Sausalito, where she lived. Over the
years, she had begun to love her patch of Sonoma, even though, with it
being so close to tidal flats, the groundwater is boron-infused and, without
a sheltered courtyard — let alone a house — her property was too windy
to inhabit on most afternoons.
Luckily, when Lucas came on board, Bevan hadn’t yet designed her
house, and the 19th-century Mission San Francisco Solano, which is
minutes away, became a font of ideas for ways to live indoors as well
as outdoors. Inspired by what they saw there, Lucas and Bevan, who
have frequently worked together, toyed with a paradise garden theme
and arrived at a master plan: an enclosed 2,500-square-foot walled garden
sheltered in part by an equally large L-shaped house.
“Marilyn’s property was full of tumbleweeds and decrepit,” Lucas recalls.
Overrun with weeds, poison oak and the remnants of on old pear orchard,
it was “spooky, but it still had a sense of place and a certain mystique.”
The garden walls as well as the house, like the mission, are finished with
low-cost white stucco. In the center of the courtyard Lucas fashioned an
arresting 25-foot-long by four-foot-wide concrete reflecting pool, edged
sparingly with more durable white Wisconsin limestone that echoes early
western watering troughs for horses.
The entrance to Marilyn Coon Stocke’s garden designed by landscape architect
Michael Lucas of the Healdsburg firm Lucas & Lucas is a study in contrasts: drought
resistant and deliberately wild and untamed outside its white garden wall, and
lush, green and irrigated inside.