If you are Follow me On Instagram, you’ll know we put our creative energy into it Big project in the backyard during quarantine. It was challenging, incredibly fun, and I practiced on most of the landscaping work I’ve ever done. Adam has always been passionate about gardening and has single-handedly designed and maintained all of the outdoor spaces in the past, but this new project made me realize how much I love to get my hands on planting, watering, weeding… Wrong.
For this latest project, we worked with our dear friend and talented landscape designer, Cameron Campbellto transform the undeveloped land behind our house into an area for cooking, eating, gathering and enjoying the sunshine…and while we still have several small projects we want to tackle there, I’m excited to share my first round of ‘after’ shots. Phase 1, completed!
First, a little context about this area of our property. For those of you all who saw the pictures I posted in my backyard, you probably remember the Large stone balcony with infinity edge pool and Chrome covered barbecue area. this The space running along the back side of our house outside the steel doors into the living room. On the other side of the fence is a 20-foot-high retaining wall, and the area on the other side of the house was an overgrown area extending into a densely wooded area. We’ve always talked about doing more with the space, but we knew it was going to be a big project and we wanted to wait until we were ready to tackle something very big.
When we bought the property, there were rickety stone terraces built by the original owner of the property in the 1950s. It was covered in overgrown vines, but it was always reminiscent of old European possessions and I fantasized about returning it to its glory. Over the years, Adam has slowly worked to clean the brush, repair and expand the old stands. As the terraces began to form and we leveled the unusable portions of the land, our big-picture ideas began to take shape. We called Cameron and spoke with him about our vision, and he made the architectural plans that served as our guide to starting the next big part of the project…
Here’s a look at our initial concept sketch – it’s fun to see the items we stuck with, and those that evolved in the process.
We always dreamed of being able to do a great job Cooking feasts on fire When we had friends, and we didn’t know this idea would become the focal point of our design. Inspired by Our trip to Mallorca Two summers ago, we decided to make it entirely from the same stone used for the terraces, and Cameron designed a curved staircase that flows organically into the circular seating area. The end result looks like it’s built on a hillside, like the old Spanish homes we loved.
This is the view from the lowest balcony where the fire pit is, looking back at the rear of the house and the buttress bedroom window on the right. Adam planted fig ivy at the base of the retaining wall when we first built our house, and 10 years later, the wall is completely covered.
I didn’t know I could fall in love with stairs – until I met this one. It’s made of solid slabs of lime-colored limestone (each weighing over 300 pounds!) and the organic curvature feels really special.
We call this the end of “Phase One”, because the major implantation and transplantation process has taken place. But we still have a few small projects to contend with before we feel like the space is completely complete for us. Beyond the lower retaining wall, there is still a field of rocky dirt we want to cover with meadow weeds, and I want to plant vegetable gardens and lemon trees. And of course, all those new factories need time to mature and fill up before the design feels alive.
Well, let’s talk about plants! This is the part of the project that was most exciting – driving to the nursery to pick our olive trees, and then some of you might remember the day Adam, my father-in-law, Gary, and I spent hundreds of our driveway down a set of stairs and set up a “slide” Innovator of heavy materials (it is worth watching on #casacamille Instagram highlight If you missed.)
Anyway, I got a lot of questions on IG about the types of plants we used, so I wanted to list most of them here. Adam and I really wanted to create a Mediterranean vibe, and luckily Austin shares a similar climate, so a lot of the plants that thrive in Spain and Italy do well here too. We picked about 8 items that we liked, and then stuck with those items throughout the entire project. These are the main plants we used:
I realized that if I had to pick one FAVORITE plant on the entire planet, it would be the olive tree. Varied shades of gray and silvery green throughout the foliage, curly and knotty stems… For me, it’s perfect. We bought three 100 gallon olive trees Austin Factory Supply To be used as accent pieces in the backyard, they will grow into a much larger beauty over the years. (We also got a lot of plants from landscape leaf supply.)
We have a large cactus Americana in our front yard that shoots young “puppies” every year or so. Instead of pruning them out and getting rid of them, Adam always takes them to the backyard, and now after 10 years we have beauties that we end up scattered all over the place. It’s amazing to think so One The plant we planted 10 years ago provided all of these agaves that we used in this project.
We used tons of boxwood around the borders which will eventually be trimmed into cleaner hedges, then lots of excess rosemary will smooth out the edges and give a more organic look (and a wonderful herbal scent).
For that quintessential Mediterranean feel, we planted a few bougainvilleas in terra-cotta pots that hopefully will bloom and climb (they can be tough). It adds subtle balance to the hearty green around it. And plenty of Little Ollies, a dwarf olive that can grow into a large shrub that can be pruned back and made more formal, or left more wild and Mediterranean.
We love our new space, and can’t wait to not be isolated to surround this fire pit with friends and family. In the meantime, I just bought Frances Mallmann Cookbook So we can work on the open fire cooking game.
Let me know what questions you guys have in the comments or on Instagram, and I’ll try to answer them all – the plants, the design process, how we furnished the space so far… Now to the next stage!