originality, and efficiency of maintenance
Hand's philosophy of garden design grew from his experiences as an artist.
Trained in abstract expressionism, he saw objects as moving, expressive
shapes that had to "do something" and "work" in
a composition. Looking for emotional power, originality, and efficiency
of maintenance, he was constantly redesigning and editing.
that gardens could be works of
fine art. Go to
The Garden as Fine Art
granite glacial washes of the High Sierra inspired the use of concrete
as the building material.
The Concrete Garden
and Silver Lake
shelters and lookouts evoke emotions
Hand believed that a garden must be more than a pretty, pleasant place. It
should evoke emotions at the core of all peoples: the need to explore
and anticipate (trails), to find safety (shelters), and to sense power
and exhilaration (lookouts).
Shelters, Trails & Lookouts
borders, and rows bored Hand, who preferred curving lines
was known for his remarkable sense of space.
He would choreograph the visitor’s passage through the garden by narrowing
and widening paths, creating shelters,
trails, and lookouts, essential garden elements he believed
connected modern man to tribal ancestors. Eschewing beds, borders, and
rows, which he found boring, Hand worked with curving lines. His use
of mounds, islands and winding paths made the property seem bigger,
while creating a mood of mystery. He also encouraged the eye to move
in certain directions by pruning or building benches to incorporate
sweeping vistas or framed views of a mountain or a city in the distance.
He believed that in a well-designed garden, every view, from every direction
within the garden, should work perfectly. Go to
daring use of strong colors and unlikely color combinations
was also known for his daring use of color,
mixing orange and pink, purple and red, and other strong combinations.
His work as a florist while finishing his studies influenced the later
use of islands in the garden. He thought of them as outdoor floral arrangements,
and followed the same principles of florists: tall plants placed off
center, low ones around the edges. While the basic color concept is
light and dark, with the concrete being light and the plants dark, within
each area is a predominant color, mixed with bits of brilliant colors
from across the palette. The clear light allows dramatic and brilliant
color arrangements not generally seen in English or East Coast gardens.
Go to Color
planted for succession of bloom, combining an artist's palette with
a plantsman's knowledge
for succession of bloom, so that the garden is not a “spring” garden
or a “summer” garden but one for all seasons. While there is no real
“winter” in El Cerrito, there is the rainy season during the late
fall and winter when growth slows down but camellias, magnolias, and
early spring bulbs bloom.
appreciated the drama of Golden Gate light
too with thought to the effect of light.
He arranged plants that glow to take advantage of the slanting light
of sunset, and planted gray and silver plants along the concrete paths
so that they would seem to widen during moonlit nights. Hand took
full advantage of the drama of the sunsets and fog off the Golden
Gate. Go to The Effect of Light