Pools and fountains

Photo by: Blancaneaux Lodge

This holistic health retreat and its junglelike gardens are nothing if not a feast for the senses: Behold yellow heliconias, red anthuriums, black bamboo and white bougainvillea. Hear tree ferns rustling in the wind. Breathe in frangipani's heady perfume. Taste fresh-picked mango and avocado. Feel the therapeutic heat of the sun and the bracing chill of the nearby Ayung River. To focus so intently on the landscape not only stimulates a deeper appreciation for the outdoors but also heightens one's sense of well-being. The resort's 23 acres reward exploration.

Bohemian Rhapsody: A Mediterranean Garden in Berkeley

February 17, 2010
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At first meeting, garden designer Brandon Tyson and homeowner Amy Harmon knew they had found kindred spirits in one another — high-energy, über-creative and passionate about their interests. By happy coincidence, both are also complete and unabashed plant nuts. It was kismet.

Photo by: Blancaneaux Lodge

You would think that Sentosa Resort & Spa, with its heady mix of tropical plantings and cascading water, was situated on a remote tropical island. The retreat is on an island, but it's hardly remote, connected as Sentosa Island is to mainland Singapore by a well-traveled bridge. One glimpse of Spa Botanica's soothing mud pools and all that bustling humanity slips away with the ease of a silk sarong.

Photo by: Romulo Fialdini

When São Paulo-based architect and landscape designer Paulo Pratti was hired to design the garden of this condo in Laranjeiras, some two hours south of Rio de Janeiro, he was inspired by the gardens of Burle Marx, a great influence on his work, yet he also visualized the cascading jungle of Rio’s hills as a dramatic backdrop straight out of a Margaret Mee painting. In the world of the great English botanical artist who explored the Amazon region in the late-1950s and 1960s, giant fuchsia blossoms erupt from tree branches in inky forests growing on river hollows.

Stunning Stone Focal Points

November 18, 2009
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Honed surfaces bring out the color and veining of Yellow Mountain StoneWorks' Kinaro Gold Limestone while hand finishes add texture to this water feature at a private home overlooking Salmon Bay, Washington. Water cascades down a rough face carrying a scored-and-pitched finish and sunlight reflects off the smooth honed wall.

Basic elements like stone and water reach us on a gut level. A sparkling fountain can mesmerize us for hours. But typical fountains, though worthy landscape features, can be problematic for institutions when it comes to maintaining them. Take the fountains of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for example. Over the years, water features were installed with the well-meaning intention of enhancing the campus.

Photo by: Cl1

There I was, in the middle of a nightmare of a Southern California heat wave, driving up into the Hollywood Hills, heading toward the garden of director Wes Craven, creator of the ghoulish Freddy Krueger character and the terrifying Scream spoofs, among other horrors. What would I find? A sweep of the moody blackish Geranium phaeum, a.k.a. mourning widow? A lone specimen cactus in the shape of Freddy's knife-fingered glove?