The Cliff

Harland Hand [1922-1998], inspired by the principles of fine art and rock formations in the High Sierra, designed this hillside garden with breathtaking views of San Francisco Bay.

Using concrete, curving lines and dramatic color combinations, Hand created an emotionally evocative space that houses an extraordinary plant collection.

photo: Martha Mikova, ca. 1976

Remembering a cliff he had seen in a Guatemalan jungle, Harland Hand used a tractor and jackhammer to sculpt the amphitheater-like ballroom at the bottom of the garden and built over 50 concrete planters to suggest stratified boulders reminiscent of Silver Lake.

Inspired by staircases in a painting of a classical Italian garden, Mr. Hand created two grand stairways descending toward each other on either side of the highest, steepest part of the cliff.

photo: Steven Poe