When we first dreamed of living on Patina Farm, we imagined that we would spend our free time tending to the gardens and the animals. We envisioned eating our chickens’ fresh eggs in the morning and cooking with the vegetables and fruits we would grow. To make these dreams come true, we first needed to design and build the gardens and animal structures.
During the time we were designing Patina Farm, we took our children on a trip to visit colleges back East. To break up the many campus tours, we decided to visit George Washington’s Mount Vernon. What a wonderful unexpected bounty of inspiration! George Washington was the epitome of the gentleman farmer. His gardens were the perfect combination of beautiful form and function. Each garden had a formal structure combined with a relaxed, unpretentious air. We were impressed by Washington’s ability to create a self-sustaining farm with such charm.
We made note of the different elements from Mount Vernon that we wanted to emulate at Patina Farm, from small details like the rows of espaliered fruit trees on simple wood trellises to larger design ideas like the symmetrical axial compositions of the gardens. I noticed the way irises and tulips shared space with the lettuce and cabbages in the vegetable garden. The natural twigs used for the sweet pea supports were both practical and attractive. Even the most rustic structures, like Dung Repository, with its gray wooden board walls, log columns and shingle roof, inspired our color palette as well as helping us decide to create our own compost area.
Living in the mild climate of Ojai, with all its natural beauty, we regard the gardens that surround our house as outdoor rooms, spaces that are connected to the indoor areas of the house both visually and aesthetically. They were designed in the same manner as the indoor rooms. Studying floor plans, furniture layouts, and material selections, we ensured that each space works for the activities that will take place. We considered focal points, vistas and the various scaled elements in each outdoor room.
All of the senses are taken into consideration; we also focus on the textures, scents, sounds, and in some of the gardens, taste, as well as the visual.