October 6, 2016
WALNUT CREEK, CA–-At Viamonte – a 200-unit community slated to break ground in 2017 in the San Francisco Bay Area city of Walnut Creek – you won’t see the traditional trappings of senior housing and that includes the landscaping.
Gone are the stuffy roses and hedges, replaced instead with landscaping designed to reflect a warm, modern aesthetic, as well as the active lifestyle of Viamonte residents. The flora will range from Japanese persimmon trees and flowering jasmine to blue glow agave and sword ferns, while the amenities include a bocce court and meditation garden.
“We are creating a landscape that is contemporary and reflects the tastes and lifestyles of Bay Area seniors,” said Linda Gates, the lead landscape architect on the Viamonte community.
Viamonte’s outdoor spaces were imagined with the desires of local seniors in mind. Before plans were drawn for the community and the landscaping that will surround it, Viamonte held a series of focus groups with potential future residents to find out what was important to them.
Many of the trees and plants at Viamonte will be native to the area, including the preservation of the century-old heritage oak trees currently on the property and the planting of a sapling from one of Jack London’s original oak trees from his property in Sonoma. The sapling will come from Beauty Ranch in Glen Ellen, which was the stomping grounds of the legendary author and is now a state park. The tree honors the area’s rich cultural history and longstanding commitment to environmental preservation, and pays respect to the circle of life that the tree will come to represent. The planting will be part of a yearlong celebration marking the 100-year anniversary of the writer’s life.
The landscape will offer continuity for residents accustomed to having their own gardens and growing fruits, herbs and vegetables. Orange trees and Japanese persimmon trees will be sprinkled throughout the grounds, and there will be raised beds for vegetable, herb and cut flower gardens.
There will also be many spaces for activities and gatherings. The property will have a mile-long walking path that will wind along new Orchards community next door, dog stations for making walking fido easier, and a meditation garden for residents to enjoy the peace and tranquility of the outdoors at Viamonte. Viamonte will also feature a pool with a moveable glass NanaWall allowing the sun and warmth in spring and summer and keeping the elements out in the winter months. The NanaWall will open onto an adjoining outdoor sun deck and a greenhouse.
Throughout the property, there will be gathering spots perfect for spending time with friends and family and enjoying meals and drinks, including a lounge area with a sleek rectangular fire pit.
Gates, a principal of Gates and Associates, said that in designing the landscaping for Viamonte, she only had to imagine where she would want to live when she retires. As a resident of nearby Danville, she can see herself living in a community such as Viamonte.
“I am 63 and eventually I am going to want to downsize,” she said. “I want to live in a resort-style environment – somewhere I would chose to stay on vacation – but with the warmth of home. That’s what we created at Viamonte.”