Hilltop Hidden Pool
A sprawling hilltop house overlooks the ocean in the distance but, even on a clear day, the main interest must be within the pool & its three accompanying terraces. Completed twenty-five years ago, this was one of my first grand master-plan projects. How have those design decisions held up?
- The pool complex is, literally, complex. It is connected to the house via a cascade of octagonal terraces, along with this narrow walkway up from the parking area. The walkway gives no hint of the astonishing array of horticulture & hardscape that will come into view, let alone the distance ocean view.
- The walkway gives onto the middle octagonal terrace. An upper one to the right has a canopy for the summer, and connects directly to the house. A lower one, to the left, connects to two stairways down to the pool.
- A decades-old old specimen of elephant food—Portulacaria afra 'Variegated' punctuates the entrance of the walkway onto the middle octagonal terrace.
- At the front side of the middle octagonal terrace, the swimming pool is at last in view. The view of ocean in the far distance is completely fogged over. There's a remarkable panoply of colorful interest within the pool's sheltering enclosure.
- Looking up from the lower, through the middle, to the canopied-&-screened upper octagonal terrace connecting to the house. Substantial changes in grade throughout were finessed by multiple flights of stairs. To your left begins one of the flights from this lower octagonal terrace down to the pool itself.
- As seen from the middle octagonal terrace, the lower hosts an umbrella'd table as well as an octagonal spa. At the right, the second stairway down to the pool. Out of sight at the left, the octagonal poolhouse.
- The octagonal poolhouse.
- Extravagantly-planted boxes atop a sitting wall between the lower octagonal terrace and the pool that is still a good six feet below it create an exuberant safe barrier. This past season, grey Cuban sage (Plectranthus argentatus) and maple-leaved purple hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella) make a heat-proof, drought-loving show.
- Steps down to the head of the pool lead both to the poolside terrace as well as—see the next shot—directly into the water.
- Looking up to the lowest octagonal terrace from the pool, showing the steps that continue right into the water.
- The second stairway from the lower octagonal terrace leads down to the side of the pool and to the far terrace.
- As seen from across the pool, the lower octagonal terrace, with its stairways right and left, is backed by the octagonal poolhouse. The spa is just barely in view at the right.
- Remarkably eccentric plantings command the stage at the end of the pool terrace. Old boxwoods from elsewhere on this seventeen-acre property were moved here twenty-five years ago to baffle breezes as well as backdrop the immense weeping blue Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca Pendula') that was also transplanted to this spot decades ago.
- The octagonal theme continues right to the end of the pool terrace, in the form of a huge octagonal raised bed for the weeping blue Atlas cedar.
- Here, a specimen of rickrack cactus (Epiphyllum aguiliger) cascades near a a giant old specimen of Vancouver Centennial geranium. At the back, the tall stems & large palmate leaves of ornamental okra (Abelmoschus manihot).
- The weeping blue Atlas cedar is an unstoppable force of nature. Already gigantic when it was transplanted to this location decades ago, its mounding mass takes up evermore of the terrace. Large tubs of colorful annuals & conservatory specimens provide summer-long sizzle.
- As seen from the ocean-end of the pool, the house's sprawling character is clear. The canopied octagonal terrace leading into the house is at the right. Yet another canopied octagonal space—this one a high deck at the left—leads off of the house's living room. From both of these, plus the house itself, the ocean views are commanding.