Dana Anne Yee, Landscape Architect, LLC.


Project Name:Whitcomb Residence
Location:Diamond Head, Honolulu, Hawaiʻi
Client:Mr. and Mrs. David Whitcomb

A dream house nestled on the slopes of Diamond Head! The home was originally designed by famed island architect, Vladimir Ossipoff, as a group of bungalows on this one acre property in the 1960’s. John Hara connected the bungalows in 1978. Architect Paul Noborikawa is the current architect involved in the design of this residence. The most notable aspect of the house is its garden like feeling of openness, and from the interior of the house, the clients can see both the Diamond Head side of the Garden and by just a turn, they can see the ʻEwa side of the Garden. It is almost like living in a tree house in a garden. With the Clients allowing me the privilege of designing their exterior spaces, I was able to create a landscape for their Kamaaina-style home that fit their needs and lifestyle; that of an indoor-outdoor living space in a tropical paradise. By integrating the landscape with local artists’ sculptures, this well used landscaped garden was transformed into a garden of art.

The previous landscape did not do justice to this beautiful house. The backyard was a barren flat plain of brown grass with unkempt Olive trees. The front yard lacked intimate and interesting spaces and was unsafe and in need of repair to the paving that was buckling and cracked.

With majestic views of Diamond Head and views of Waikīkī, the clients wanted an outdoor living space that matched their active lifestyle on the Ewa side of their home and a peaceful, tranquil setting on the Diamond Head side.


The barren plain of brown grass was transformed into a lush green rolling lawn area. Soil was added to create mounds for the newly planted fruit garden area with a beautiful branched Lychee, Meyer Lemon and Tangerine trees and tropical flowering plants such as Hanging Heliconias, Gardenias and Gingers. Native Hawaiian and drought tolerant plants, such as ‘Akia, were planted. A space was created for “The Seed”, a sculpture by renowned local artist, Satoru Abe. It seemed perfectly placed as the wind swept feeling of the Olive trees beyond, and Diamond Head looming from the distance as the sun rises.


A surprise awaits visitors upon entering the gated entrance. Surrounded by Areca Palms they are greeted by the sweet fragrance of Gardenias, Gingers and Orchids as they walk on large concrete steps with ‘Golden Ray’ quartize square patterned stones with Dwarf Mondo Grass between them. A bronze bird sculpture peaks out of the Bromeliads. The original pathway was narrowed to create a more intimate entrance, whereby the first view of this grand residence is a Sean Browne granite sculpture.

The soft sound of water trickling over the edge of the granite stone that was especially built in Japan, is a soothing sound.

The Clients’ 92 year old mother often visits so pathways were designed for easy access. Circulation was important to provide a flow throughout this large space. A meandering grass area was created to connect the grand stair to the mauka end of the residence. An important element to create this flow, was the design and construction of a serpentine seat wall. The seat wall created interesting spaces for the pool deck and the wide width of the limestone cap made it possible for ease in sunbathing.

New planters were also constructed to soften the tall bright white wall and to help to create a pleasant view from the art studio.

The sensitivity of the “Tree Hugger” clients to keep all of their existing trees was admirable. To be environmentally responsible, existing canopy trees and new shade trees were planted to provide a cooling effect and to help to reduce glare from paved surfaces. Working with the civil engineer, care was taken to follow natural drainage patterns to drain water away from the house. Care was taken to conserve energy by planting xeriscape and native Hawaiian plants. A new irrigation system was added for low maintenance. An automatic irrigation clock and a rain gauge were added to help regulate the water flow and reduce water usage.

The clients and their guests enjoy the ease with which they can use the edible plant materials. Planted adjacent to the pool bar kitchen and BBQ area are a group of citrus trees and just off of the front entrance and kitchen is home of the herb garden.

This provided perfect locations to pick the freshest ingredients to enhance their meals.

Your eyes can not help but be drawn to the colorful cylinders of the Rick Mills glass sculpture at the end of the heated salt water swimming pool. This water feature was designed so that water flows up from the seven cylinders and cascades down tubes that create a ring of bubbles below each cylinder into a glass mosaic pool.

It has always been important for me to support and showcase the local artists’ talents in Hawaiʻi, and one way of doing this is by adding art as part of the landscape whenever I can. With enthusiastic clients, I was given the opportunity to work with four artists to design spaces especially for their works of arts.

Up-lighting of all of the spectacular trees helped to create a soft resort feeling to the landscape. tiki torches were placed throughout to provide a nice glow at night.

Although a private residence, the public has had a glimpse of this picturesque setting on the TV show “LOST”, which was filmed there twice. Weddings have taken place there and photos were taken of them strolling through the Olive Tree grove.

The success of this tropical landscape was the many enjoyable times it has created for the clients. In fact, The Kahala Mandarin Hotel’s representative visited the clients to ask if they could rent it. The true fact of the comfort and grand use of the exterior spaces is that many of their visitors throughout the year spend much of their vacation there. I often explain that there are many other places in Hawaiʻi they can visit but their response is that they are perfectly happy poolside at this fine Diamond Head Residence.

The Whitcomb Residence was recognized by Scenic Hawaii for a Betty Crocker Landscape Award of Honor in 2004.
The Whitcomb Residence was also recognized by BIA Hawaii (Building Industry Association) 21st Annual BIA Renaissance Building and Remodeling Awards, Grand Award in 2006.