“We also had to create places to sit in the shade,” Lucas says. So Bevan
organized rooms that open onto covered patios and decks for outdoor dining.
Two-foot-high raised rubble-and-concrete patios form an L. The larger
section has seating that overlooks the water feature, and off the kitchen
door is a smaller area for daily dining. A few steps down, a section covered
with gravel contains a barbecue and a large trellis under which Stocke can
seat four to 12 guests, her ideal numbers. Nearby, a fire pit offers warmth
on cool evenings.
In back, a breezeway leads to winter ponds and a gravel mulch path, a
large eucalyptus bench, stepping-stones and large granite boulders.
In sum, the courtyard that the Healdsburg firm Lucas & Lucas created
is its own universe, visible from virtually every room in the house and large
enough to accommodate as many as 50 guests in its many enclaves. Its
plantings from 2013 have grown large and lush, all carefully irrigated with
10,000 gallons of fresh water trucked in monthly during summer. That
costs about $450 a month but is worth it. Star jasmine forms a fragrant
ground cover while olive, ornamental pear and black Mission fig trees,
agapanthus plants, red roses and what Lucas calls “straight-up everyday
lush-looking plants” thrive.
Beyond the walls, kangaroo paw, Australian rosemary, acacias, dwarf
olives, a variety of grasses, salvias and aloes, as well plants that attract
hummingbirds, hold sway. They are all hardy, but some plants such as
coastal rosemary simply did not survive the first winter or fell prey to
gophers and moles. Luckily, agaves, which those burrowers particularly
love, are self-perpetuating and grow back.
“All I wanted was a wind-breaker. I didn’t plan to have a courtyard but
I am so glad that’s the way it turned out,” Stocke says. “The courtyard is
a marvelous oasis and a pleasant surprise for anyone who walks past the
drought-resistant plants into a garden with a water feature and green walls.
It is fun to see their reactions.”
With the effort it takes to maintain such a garden, it is as if Stocke
and her husband, Roland, who during weekends is quite hands-on with
pruning and caring for the grounds, are both latter-day pioneers. She now
lives there full-time and they will both retire there someday.
“When I come home from work I walk the property and check where
gophers might have gotten in,” Stocke says. “There are other pests like
rabbits to contend with. It is always a maintenance dance.” Having lived
in Australia, she is particularly wary of jackrabbits. Deer, a nuisance in
neighboring vineyards, luckily keep to the periphery, within the thicket
of oaks, eucalyptus and the last of the pear trees.
“At some point we may wonder what we are doing, but not now,” Stocke
muses. “It is a lot of work, but I am so happy here.” n
I DIDN’T PLAN TO HAVE
A COURTYARD BUT
I AM SO GLAD THAT’S THE
WAY IT TURNED OUT.