Colorful Architectural Gardens on Tour

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Plants now come in an astonishing range of colors and textures. A group of colorful, architectural gardens designed by Ace Architects (http://www.aceland.com) will be featured on several tours during the Spring and Summer.

Plants, not just their flowers, come in an increasingly diverse and striking range of colors and shapes. Responding to gardeners' and homeowners' growing enthusiasms for plants with colorful and dramatic foliage, breeders have developed stunning cultivars of many common plants - red, blue, yellow, striped and spotted plants can now be found at many local nurseries.

Ace Architects (http://www.aceland.com), a Bay Area firm known for colorful and whimsical projects, has for some time stretched their architectural approach to areas beyond the building envelope. Taking full advantage of the range of colors and textures now available in plant materials, Ace has designed a group of gardens that explore what a garden can be.

Though it seems an obvious approach (at least to an architect), gardens are rarely designed as spatial extensions of the adjacent house or building. Or, if the interior space does connect through to the outdoors, the relationship often ends at the edge of the hardscape - the deck or patio.

Ace, working with horticulturalist Margaret Majua, has taken the relationship between houses and landscape in a new direction. Ace gardens are architectural, outdoor rooms or spatial sequences connecting buildings to distant views and local context. Colors and materials of both houses and their gardens share a palette and texture. Wildly colorful houses have wildly colorful plants, rustic houses have various outdoor spaces relating to sun and use. Palm groves and cactus gardens (http://www.aceland.com/projects_gardens.html#), meadows and intricate geometrically patterned gardens, recycled glass and purple mulch, pools, koi ponds and statues - all are exuberantly deployed in Ace gardens.

Architects typically shy away from gardens, or, if given the opportunity, treat them with a geometric severity contradictory to their nature. One of the great delights of gardens is their constant change.

Want to challenge your ideas of what a garden can be like? Ace gardens will be featured on tours benefiting a variety of organizations this Spring and Summer.

April 24 & 25
First, the the colorful and playful Tanzillo Garden in Piedmont, will be featured on the wildly popular "Park Day School Secret Gardens of the East Bay Tour" (http://66.117.159.164/secretgardens).

July 16
The "Ruth Bancroft Horticultural Series: Make Room for Succulents in Your Garden" lecture event will hold the reception at Rancho Diablo in Lafayette. Sponsored by the Garden Conservancy, see http://www.gardenconservancy.org/events.pl?ID=318 for information
about attending the lecture.

July 24
Then the annual "OBUGS (Oakland Based Urban Gardens) Art and Garden Tour", a moving party with food and music at each location, includes two gardens, both at homes architects designed for themselves. Rancho Diablo, designed by Ace Architects' partners Lucia Howard and David Weingarten, and nearby
in Lafayette, CA, the Faulkner Residence, architect Greg Faulkner and designer Lesa Faulkner's new cor-ten steel sided home. (See http://www.obugs.org/ for tickets)

To see more work by Ace Architects, visit http://www.aceland.com.

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Lucia Howard
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