Jarrod Baumann for Luxury Trending Magazine
Jarrod Baumann for Luxury Trending Magazine | Foto: Jarrod Baumann for Luxury Trending Magazine

Jarrod Baumann, The Creative Eye of a Landscape Architect

Por: Edward Rueda

6, April, 2022 en Luxclub

Jarrod Baumann

Get Out! Smell the jasmine, the rose, the orange blossom, and let the healing begin.

The Creative Eye of a Landscape Architect

Interview by Heide VanDoren Betz

Luxury Trending: Tell us about your background and your upbringing.

Jarrod Baumann: I was born outside of Los Angeles to an established California family that owned real estate and development companies. My grandfather owned a ranch in the foothills below Yosemite, which is where I grew up with three generations of our family. The land had an amazing history with native Americans who loved, cultivated, and built on the land.

We had 5 homes, stables, a 12-acre lake, and miles of moss and lichen-covered stone walls to call home. I created my first secret garden (the name inspired by the movie) in a shepherds’ pen made from these walls. I was 12 years old. My grandmother gave me seeds instead of an allowance. I couldn’t wait to check the seeds and the growth every day, which became my excitement in my early youth. Then in my teenage years, I worked with my grandfather, a developer. This early experience influenced my path in life as a landscape architect, a passionate gardener, and a rare plant collector.

By the time I moved away to attend University, I proudly claimed over 200 species of plants growing within these walls. I believe I had no choice in the matter – the plants chose me to be their steward.

 Jarrod Baumann for Luxury Trending Magazine
Jarrod Baumann for Luxury Trending Magazine

LT: Is it your grandfather who inspired you to become a landscape architect?

JB: Yes. By the time I was 12, I was redlining his architects’ plans for the private homes he was developing. I also worked with him on master plans for the country club and a town that he was planning to build. I remember he got me a subscription to AD, again at 12, and the rest is history. One of my best friend who fortunately lived across the river from my childhood home also steered me in the direction of landscape architecture after she saw my love for plants and my eye for artistic landscaping composition.

LT: Were there challenging times in your early career?

JB: It wasn’t easy at all. My parents were my biggest hurdle. They are Jehovah’s Witnesses and don’t believe in higher education or secular materialism. I had to rebel to go away to study landscape architecture. This rebellion propelled me into success at a very young age. Can you imagine me knocking on doors and trying to convert people to become Jehovah’s Witness religion! I couldn’t leave soon enough.

LT: You were married for several years to a woman who helped you realize your true identity and path. Was your family supportive of you?

JB: No. Since I was raised in a strict religious family there was no diverting from any rules and rituals. At 21 it was decided that I should marry. So, I did. There were over 300 guests at our little country club wedding. My bride and I were best friends and she was (still is) one of the most beautiful women I had ever met. Any man in his right mind would have loved being married to her. We were a dynamic and beautiful “power” couple.

After a decade of living a lie, and with the full understanding of my wife, I came out to my family. It was torture. My family disowned me; of the 300 hundred people at my wedding less than a handful even speak to me now. I lost my family, my home, the land I grew up on; I lost my friends. I knew I had to rebuild something, somehow, something that no one could ever take away from me. I found healing in nature, the forests around me, Land’s End; I walked the labyrinth often. No one can take nature away from you!

My horses and my gardens helped me heal from the sadness of loss, but also really helped me learn who I was without a family. I basically lived life as an orphan – without a family. Fortunately, I was soon surrounded by many adoptive mothers, sisters, brothers, fathers! San Francisco was so loving and welcoming to the new Jarrod but with the same old last name.

 Jarrod Baumann for Luxury Trending Magazine
Jarrod Baumann for Luxury Trending Magazine

LT: When did you establish Zeterre Landscape Architecture?

JB: Always wanting to work in gardens and the outdoors, I started my company in Los Altos in 2006. We moved to San Francisco a few years later knowing it was a place of social freedom, creativity, and design opportunity.

LT: How has San Francisco / the Bay Area played a role in your success?

JB: Architecture and design is mostly a referral and word-of-mouth business. I have been fortunate; my clientele has doubled every year. San Francisco has such international connections that it opened golden doors all over the world for me. I have worked in India, France, England, Portugal, Russia, and Argentina, so far. I hope to do a lot more internationally. In April we are flying to the south of France to kick off a 10-year project for friends. I will probably (and happily) work on this project for the rest of my days. It’s easy to get addicted to the beauty we create.

LT: Please share the process of creating a garden/outdoor environment for a client.

JB: When I walk onto a “raw” site or space I just see it – I sense the possibilities, the outcome, the completion. I don’t know exactly how – but I have always been able to envision how spaces could be very beautiful and special. I see color, lines, texture, and the overall design all coming together in my mind. I guess you could say I get a vision. When working with clients I often spend only an hour or two with them before designing their dream outdoor world. Much is instinct and some training – I studied psychology, sociology, sacred spaces. The psychology of space, as well as my study of landscape architecture, travel, and design all, converge in the vision on my brain. I am a walking sponge.

The actual process includes meeting with the client and discovering their needs and wishes. What is their lifestyle? What do they expect from a garden – is it visual pleasure, is it a refuge? I create 3 D video renderings because the flat architectural plans really do not tell the story. Some things need to be seen.

LT: Who typically ar

 Jarrod Baumann for Luxury Trending Magazine
Jarrod Baumann for Luxury Trending Magazine

e your clients and what do they request.

JB: The majority of my work has been in private homes throughout the world. Many of my clients are fans of my parterre (formal, structured) gardens and my fondness of sculptured trees and bushes – never met a tree I did not want to transform into a sculptural vision. We have worked with some of the most brilliant minds of California’s Silicon Valley, several royal families, and a few fun old American families from the gilded age. We are presently working with some wineries, a wellness center, and several private equestrian properties. A state botanical garden of several hundred acres is a possible future project with preliminary stages of master planning and fundraising in progress.

LT: Do you have a formula or a specific plant palette?

JB: No, not really a palette. For me, the spaces I create become sacred without trying. The plant palette I use is extremely unusual. I feel that if you hire us – a luxury landscape architecture firm, you should have access to plants and materials that others do not. We have a private nursery for Zeterre with rare plants from vendors all over the world. These exotic and rare “creatures” further make our client’s jewel box garden shine in an unparalleled way. Walking through a Zeterre garden should give the feeling of being in a sacred and healing space.

 Jarrod Baumann for Luxury Trending Magazine
Jarrod Baumann for Luxury Trending Magazine

LT: Tell us about some memorable and favorite projects.

JB: During my first week working in Silicon Valley, we were asked to design the master plan and garden for a 26,000 square foot single-story home set on 9 acres. We designed a full private botanic garden for 7 acres. We spent over a million dollars moving full-size trees around to locate the perfect environment, before purchasing 80 full-size trees for their final location. Rare plants were brought in from all over the world. That was memorable since it was my first experience like this, but fortunately, it has become wonderful normalcy. We are now finishing up a Japanese modern house garden in Los Altos hills. The technology and design elements ooze concepts that have never been done. I thrive on “out of the box” thinking, especially when the beauty and elements of surprise take your breath away. I love being able to take your breath away.

LT: What keeps you inspired?

JB: I spend 2 to 3 months a year every year traveling in Europe and Asia. I have done so since my youth. My biggest garden inspirations come from France, the gardens of Lake Maggiore, as well as some of the gardens in Japan.

LT: What do you love most about what you do?

JB: Getting out. Studies have shown that getting out into nature is good physically and mentally. I believe that gardens are healing. I try to create spaces that grow and get even better with time. Memories can be brought back with scents of flowers and plants. Just smell the jasmine, the blooming rose, the rosemary, the orange blossoms, and your healing process will begin. Knowing that my gardens have helped heal and bring pleasure to some of the most brilliant minds in the world gives me such satisfaction and peace.

LT: What are some of your favorite personal activities?

JB: I spend a lot of time truly living and enjoying a quality life with my partner, Christopher. We travel and love exploring and dining while traveling. When in California, we spend time with our Andalusian horses, hiking, and gardening (gentleman style of course). Our dog Duchess and Sphynx cats, Anubis and Isis keep us on our toes. Giving back is an important part of my life. I am involved in and support several philanthropic organizations which focus on the outdoors, on nature. I am on the advisory council for Slide Ranch in Stinson Beach where, at a past event, we raised major funds to support child education about the importance of nature and conservation.

LT: What are a few favorite travel destinations?

JB: The Lakes region in Italy as well as Sintra, Portugal where the gardens, homes, and climate are magical. Both of these are areas where families “in the know” have chosen to build. People often fall in love with these sites/homes/gardens and build until they spend the total of their fortunes – of course all well spent, in my opinion.

LT: You stand out at any event with your creative fashion selections each worthy of publication. What inspires you; how do you choose your eye-popping styles?

JB: I think fashion is art. I collect art and fashion… and fashion as art. I can’t help myself when it comes to beautiful things. I know I am pretty good at putting projects of any kind together, including a creative and original outfit. I have been known to sport my polo boots with a McQueen Tux and then toss feather epaulets on the shoulders. I have worn a custom Persian-lamb fur corset to the opening Gala Night for the San Francisco Ballet; I have

dressed in full period costume, including high heels, for the Ballo del Doge in Venice. I keep it masculine (with a flair), but I definitely enjoy breaking conventional fashion rules.

 Jarrod Baumann for Luxury Trending Magazine
Jarrod Baumann for Luxury Trending Magazine

LT: If you were not a landscape architect what would you want to do? Any future plans?

JB: For me, there is no alternative; Landscape architecture was and is my calling. I consider myself a true artist; my canvas is the land, I create compositions not only for gardens but for art in many forms.

Wait till you see what we have in store in the near future. Here’s a hint – my very own almost blank canvas, complete with a sculpture garden, stables, a wonderful pre-war ranch house, and 20 acres with unlimited water. All in one of the best climates in the world! Sounds like my new improved childhood home? It’s more. Perhaps it is time for me to wake up with our herd of beloved Andalusian horses grazing adjacent to our own verdant gardens. Oh, yes, just wait!

LT: What is your favorite food /favorite dining venue/restaurant – here, there, anywhere?

JB: Oh, there are so many to choose from. In San Francisco right now, I love Birdsong and Palette. We were in Mexico City recently – where the food scene is amazing- and were blown away by Pujol. I want to also throw in Outstanding in the Field (a roving restaurant without walls) which has provided some of my favorite dining experiences of my life. I have a feeling that I will do one of their incredible dining experiences at our ranch in the future.

LT: What is your mantra?

JB: First, we give to gardens and then the gardens give back to us; gardens will save you and talk back to you if you let them.


Head to the link for the full article and exclusive images:

Photo Credits:

JARROD BAUMANN @jarrod_ryan_baumann

Creative Director and Writer: HEIDE BETZ @heidebetz

Art Director: NIGEL JOHN DEL MUNDO @nigeldelmundo

Photographer’s Assistant: EVA ALVAREZ

Photographer: VINCENT GOTTI @vinniegotti

Photographed in: Capitola and San Francisco, CA