Brooks Kolb’s Inverness Garden to be Published in “New Landscaping Ideas That Work”

Seattle landscape architect Brooks Kolb, ASLA, is thrilled to announce that his Inverness Garden for the “Century 21 Idea House” is set to be published in the forthcoming book, “New Landscaping Ideas That Work.” Written by Julia Moir Messervy, the celebrated author of the “Not So Big House” book series, the January, 2018 publication will include a case study of the garden and a photo spread by Ken Gutmaker.  This garden provides an outdoor living room designed to complement the architecture of the house, which was originally designed in 1962 by architect Jack Morse, who was a friend and colleague of Kolb’s father, Keith Kolb, FAIA.

This garden was published in the Fall Home Design issue of the Seattle Times “Pacific NW Magazine,” in October, 2012, with photographs by Ben Benschneider, and can be found on Kolb’s website, here:  https://www.brookskolbllc.net/projects/inverness-garden/








Photograph by Ben Benschneider

Brooks Kolb LLC Honored by BUILD Magazine

Seattle Landscape Architect Brooks Kolb, ASLA, is  honored and delighted to announce that his firm, Brooks Kolb LLC Landscape Architecture, was granted a prestigious award from BUILD Magazine, an international publication of construction and design based in the United Kingdom.  Announced in September, 2017, BUILD named Brooks Kolb LLC “Best Traditional Landscape Architecture Firm – Washington State and Best Washington Residential Garden Design:  Interlaken Park Garden.”  See the link below, page 75 for the essay Kolb prepared, describing his firm for the magazine:


Mike Siegel 9-7-14.7

Photograph by Mike Siegel

Published in the September 7, 2014 issue of the Seattle Times’ “Pacific NW Magazine,” more photographs and a description of the Interlaken Park Garden can be found here on Kolb’s website:   https://www.brookskolbllc.net/projects/interlaken-park-garden/



Hellebores – Harbingers of Spring in the Pacific Northwest

by Seattle Landscape Architect Brooks Kolb

It’s been an especially wet and cold winter in the Pacific Northwest, but we’re finally beginning to see the first signs of spring.  Winter-blooming Witch Hazels and Camellias have already finished flowering, and now is the time for Hellebores to take center stage.  No Hellebore species is more popular than Helleborus orientalis.  Known as “Lenten Rose” for the time of its bloom period, this Hellebore has already been blooming for several weeks and it should continue through at least the end of March.  Depending on the exact variety, its pale flowers on narrow, foot-high stems in shades of pink, purple, magenta, cream and chartreuse look like they were painted in watercolor washes.   It’s nice to plant massings of all-white varieties, but deep pink ones like ‘Pink Frost’ are also attractive.  It’s easy to find them in batches of mixed hybrids if you want random samplings of the entire color range in a single planting bed.

Helleborus orientalis ‘Pink Frost’

Among the other species, Helleborus niger (“Christmas Rose”) looks very similar to Lenten Rose except that its leaves have no obvious stems, while H foetidus (“Bears’s Foot hellebore) has strikingly narrow leaves.  But, apart from Lenten Rose, the other species I like to use in my designs is the Corsican Hellebore (H. argutifolius.)  This one is much taller and wider, to about 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide, with tough, leathery mint-green leaves and large, showy chartreuse flowers that bloom in February and hold their blooms until you finally decide to cut them off in early summer.  The Corsican Hellebore is a great ornamental evergreen  shrub for partly shaded spots in the garden and is a good selection for the back or middle of a garden bed, with the lower Lenten Roses occupying spots below it in the foreground.

Helleborus argutifolius


Brooks Kolb in “Exceptional Properties” Magazine

Seattle Landscape Architect Brooks Kolb’s residential landscape design is featured in the September/October 2012 issue of “Exceptional Properties” Magazine.  In an article called “Localism Meets the Landscape – Creating Formal Gardens that Look Like They’ve Always Been There,” author Nanci Theoret focuses on the work of Chicago firm Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects as well as Brooks Kolb LLC.  As Theoret puts it, “…across the country, there is a stream of consciousness to use plant materials indigenous to a specific region and a concerted effort to create more sustainable gardens.”

In the article, Theoret paraphrases Brooks Kolb:

“Homes within Seattle’s city limits pack a lot into every square foot of garden space out of necessity; homesites are small, says Brooks Kolb, a landscape architect there.  Urban residents, he says, want more hardscape elements – paths, hot tubs, outdoor fireplaces, and water features – to maximize use of these smaller alfresco areas.”

“ ‘People think of a garden as a place to sit outside,’ Kolb says.  ‘They want outdoor areas for seating, dining, and entertaining.   Some of my clients are avid gardeners; others just want to enjoy the feeling of being in a garden, to enjoy the fragrance and sensory qualities.’”

Here’s a link to the full article: http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/00b26966#/00b26966/10, turn to pages 6-10.
Two photographs of Brooks Kolb’s work are published in the article, as displayed below.  The top photo is from the Blue  Ridge Garden; the bottom photo is from the Matthews Beach Garden.  For more information about both garden designs, please visit the portfolio page athttp://www.brookskolbllc.com

Fall Color Arrives at the Pike’s Peak Garden

We are proud to present these two images of fall color at the Pike’s Peak Garden, which was designed by Seattle Landscape Architect Brooks Kolb and installed ten years ago.  These photographs were taken by the owner, Jeff Lum, in the last week or so.



Presenting Russ Beardsley, Master Stonemason

Seattle landscape architect Brooks Kolb is currently working on a project in Bellingham, Washington, involving gabion garden retaining walls.  Look for an upcoming blog entry on gabion walls in garden construction.  Brooks’ client was smart enough to find a master stonemason to install the walls:  Russ Beardsley of Borrowed Ground, http://www.borrowedground.com.  A former metal craftsman and former member of the Denver Art Commission, Russ is nothing short of an artist in stone.  Here are three images of his amazing work for another client in Bellingham:Image

Russ Beardsley’s Dry-set Wall with a crenelated coping, similar to traditional Irish and Scottish walls. No mortar has been used in this wall and the coping pieces are absolutely locked into place!

ImageRuss Beardsley’s dry-set Gothic arch, with a granite keystone, defying gravity.


Russ Beardsley’s cantilevered stone stair.  These stone treads appear to float above the slope.  Actually, they are anchored with 2/3rds of the length of each tread set deep into the hillside.

You may ask, why is Russ’ company named “Borrowed Ground?”  It’s from the deeply spiritual Native American idea that we don’t own the earth or the ground; we merely borrow it while we’re here.

Laurelhurst Hillside Garden in “Pacific NW” Magazine

Seattle Landscape Architect Brooks Kolb’s Laurelhurst Hillside Garden was featured in the January 27, 2013 issue of the Seattle Times’ “Pacific NW” magazine. “Growing Up Gracefully: Gentle Curves and Masses of Plants Keep a Garden Looking Good” was the way Times writer Valerie Easton titled the piece.

Quoting from Valerie Easton’s article,

“A great view is about all Kevin and Jean Kelly’s Laurelhurst garden had going for it when landscape architect Brooks Kolb first saw it.  The topography was precipitous, the plantings worn, the steep steps down to the garden cracked and broken.  The handsome old house not only lacked connection to the garden, it turned its back to it…”

“Kolb started by designing an entry terrace to connect the old house to its new garden.  A geotech warned against filling in with heavy soil, so Kolb used foam to raise the grade about a foot.  Now the expanded porch steps graciously down to a terrace at lawn level.  Kolb replaced the chute-like stairs with a gentle S-curve of steps that wind their way through fragrant shrubbery….”

“How to create a garden that’s tactile, scented and seasonal, yhet so easy to care for? ‘The garden isn’t Noah’s ark, there aren’t just two of anything,’ says Kolb of his strategy of massing grasses, prennials and small shrubs…”

“Both Kelly and Kolb emphasize the importance of teamwork in the garden’s success.  Kelly had a vision, Kolb realized it, and gardener Eileen O’Leary stepped in to maintain the place. ‘Gardens evolve,’ says Kolb, who includes a yearly post-evaluation with all his landscapes.”

Here’s a link to the full article: http://seattletimes.com/html/pacificnw/2020148828_pacificpnwl27.html.

The project team included Dochnahl Construction (concrete and foam work); Gardenstone Masonry (Wilkeson sandstone masonry); Clayton E. Morgan Landscaping (softscape.)

Kelly July 2011 035

The S-curve sandstone stair from below


“Before” picture

Brooks Kolb’s “Atomic Ranch House” Garden Design featured in “Pacific NW” Magazine

A photograph of  Seattle Landscape Architect Brooks Kolb’s garden design was included in a “Northwest Living” story in the March 3, 2012 Seattle Times “Pacific NW” Magazine.  Bearing the expressive title, “Big Blast from the Atomic Ranch Past,”  Becky Teagarden’s article describes the creative and meticulous way in which Sabrina Libertty restored her West Seattle mid-century modern home with exuberant furnishings, art and industrial design from the period.  Brooks’ job as landscape architect was to fulfill Sabrina’s dream of a mid-century modern garden such as one would expect to find in Palm Springs.  It didn’t hurt that a huge cache of red lava rock gravel covered most of the side yard, and we recycled it as pebble banding in new poured concrete pathways.

Built on several levels, the new garden is divided into two sub-spaces, one for the primary use of the owners, plus a smaller outdoor terrace and deck for their vacation rental guests in “Suite Shagalicious,” downstairs below the main living space.  Horizontally clad fences were designed to harmonize with the existing railing on an upper deck.  The owner’s garden features a paved cove with a portable fire feature.  An invisible turf paving system called “Geoblock” was used to create an occasional parking space.Watch Full Movie Streaming Online and Download

Here’s a link to the article and Ben Benschneider’s photograph of the architecture and landscape:


Meanwhile, here’s a photograph taken toward the end of the contsruction:


Brooks Kolb’s Sustainable Landscapes Highlighted in Alaska Airlines Magazine

In the July 13 issue of Alaska Airlines Magazine entitled “Home Green Home:  the benefits of sustainable living,” Seattle Landscape Architect Brooks Kolb contributed his thoughts on “gardening with a sustainable thumb.”  Accompanied by a photograph of Brooks Kolb’s Laurelhurst Hillside Garden, the article summarizes some of the leading principles of energy conservation in residential architectural design as well as landscape design.

Brooks was quoted saying, “There’s always a trade-off or conflict between the goal to be sustainable and the goal to meet your dream of what you want your landscape to be.”  Actually, there doesn’t need to be a conflict.  Often it’s a matter of communicating to a client how their dream landscape can be simultaneously designed to be sustainable.  For example, if someone has their heart set on a stone path and steps and they’ve found a beautiful Chinese granite, it could be a matter of showing them how a locally sourced stone can be just as beautiful.  The energy saved by eliminating the need for shipping from halfway around the world can be substantial.

As writer Lyna Bort Caruso summarized it, Brooks’ “design philosophy is to support what clients request, but to also nudge them in a greener direction that can help reduce watering and gardening bills, too.  This may include using local materials wherever practical; reducing the size of lawns and leaving grass cuttings behind to serve as a natural fertilizer; installing a rain garden, which allows rainwater to collect and channel off into yards; and avoiding pesticides and herbicides to protect the groundwater from pollutants.”

Here’s a link to the full article: http://www.journalgraphicsdigitalpublications.com/epubs/PARADIGM%20COMMUNICATIONS%20GROUP/ParadigmAlaskaAirlinesJuly2013/#?page=86

Brooks Kolb’s Laurelhurst Hillside Garden, photograph published in Alaska Airlines Magazine

Brooks Kolb Landscape Featured in “Coastal Living” Magazine

Brooks Kolb’s landscape design for a weekend getaway home on Hood Canal is featured in the October, 2013 issue of “Coastal Living” Magazine.
The on-line story, titled “A Quaint Retreat,”  displays only this dining room image looking out to the canal and the Olympic Mountains beyond, but the print version includes several exterior shots showcasing my landscape design.  Titled “Paradise Found,” the print version summarizes the project in a subtitle, explaining  that  “The serene, blissful setting of a waterfront Holly, Washington abode brings back happy memories of a homeowner’s childhood on the coast.”
This unique garden in the village of Holly, Washington features not only a beach and an upland forest lining a long driveway, but also a small wetland and an active salmon stream.  Restoration of the salmon stream was a key part of the project, involving both re-sculpting the creek banks and islands and clearing a major culvert under the Seabeck-Holly Road, adjacent to the property.   After the restoration was completed, salmon returned to the creek in droves.
The project team included Andrew Borges, architect; Tom and Kathy Smayda, hydraulic engineers and wetland biologists; and Robin Richie, landscape contractor.  The interiors are by Michelle Burgess.   Photograph by John Ellis.


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