Cornerstone Sonoma's garden
creators make up an international roster of eminent landscape architects and designers, while the gallery-style gardens express ideas from whimsical to lyrical to more weighty concerns.
In September of 2006, Cornerstone joined with the Garden Conservancy to host a series of design talks, resulting in a lively discourse on the art of the garden.
A new garden designed by the firm of Oehme, van Sweden & Associates premiered in conjunction with the seminar. James van Sweden, an influential figure associated with the New American Garden style, and partner Sheila Brady follow a philosophy that references natural meadows, an ecologically minded, low- maintenance approach, and the skillful uniting of informal plantings within a refined hardscape.
The OVSLA design for Cornerstone achieves a lovely clarity in its division of space. Abetted by a diagonal arrangement of 'Tuscan Blue' rosemary, forming a long hedge, the fragrant shrubbery effectively bisects the garden's rectangular layout. Along the boundary to the rear of the hedge, the garden yields to a gathering of olive trees, and plantings of herbaceous perennials that pay homage to the shifting seasons.
In describing the concept, Brady pointed out the design's interplay with geometries: The rectangle... strongly contrasted with the diagonal... and a circular overlay, resulting in a play of light and shade.
Meander along the pathway and your focus turns from the sculpted multi-stems of the olives, to a vibrant juxtaposition: Within a monolithic field of grasses - punctuated by California poppies - a massing of winter-flowering Agave attenuata emerges in a wedge-shaped, sunny corner. The demonstrative succulent rosettes of the agaves offset the lacy leaves of perennials such as ferns and columbines, growing along the sheltered area behind the trees.