The Roman Pool

Stroll out the French doors onto the south terrace and descend one of two gravel paths through a broad lawn to the Upper Garden’s lily pond. It’s a lovely segue from dry terrain to aquatic, but in no way does it prepare you for what comes next.  At the far edge of the pond is a formal Elizabethan balustrade.  Suddenly, just beneath the view of the horizon – a Roman pool the size of a football field dramatically appears, framed by a panoramic view of Silicon Valley and the Santa Cruz mountains. The effect is jaw-dropping.

As you turn around to remind yourself that you’re not actually in ancient Rome, you see the reflection of the main house’s garden facade shimmering beneath the lilies in the pond.  Once again, the boundary between inside and out is surprisingly, delightfully, blurred.

Symmetrical curved staircases lead you past an intimate private garden down to the Lower Gardens for a closer view.  The Roman water garden — with its free-standing grotto of arches recalling an ancient Roman aqueduct — is a masterpiece.  The grotto’s orientation with the sun allows the reflection of the each of the arches shadows to lengthen theatrically throughout the day. Alongside the pool, olive and oak trees echo the twin influences of Italy and California. It’s unique design and integration with the local flora exhibit an Arts and Crafts theme through the uncommon use of natural materials: terrace, walls, arcades, balustrades, and planting urns are all made of roughly chipped natural stones and rough dark bricks.  This insightful blending with nature makes it seem as though the pool and garden have existed in this spot since the beginning of time.

San Francisco Bay Area quarries provided it all — flagstones from Napa County, native brown fieldstones, and small, chip-like red chert.  The Greene’s themselves designed all of the rustic ceramic planter pots placed throughout the garden and elsewhere on the property, all locally made.

A small lawn bordered with olive trees and succulents, also known as Grammie’s Garden, is a secluded hideaway within the larger Roman garden. It was a favorite refuge of Bella Fleishhacker.