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Architect's Garden

Bel Air, CA

This much-published and frequently toured hilltop garden boldly meshes a modernist sensibility with the best sustainable practices. Featured in Metropolitan Home, Los Angeles Magazine, Design Bureau, California Style, and New York Times Magazine, this drought-tolerant garden is on the forefront of thinking about water usage. The 1960s water-use intensive landscape was transformed into a series of gardens to compliment the classic modernist pavilion and celebrate panoramic views of the Santa Monica Mountains. Challenges included the need to re-grade the site to give more space to garden areas, control views and solve erosion at the precipice of a steep slope. The garden areas feature sculptural succulents, grasses that sway in the breeze and a grove of Eucalyptus trees. South African Aloes coupled with Colorado moss rock boulders act as a three-dimensional sculpture at the foreground of the mountain view. A zigzag hedge of Bush Germander frames the view and connects with colors of the hills beyond. Additionally, the hedge replaces a diagonal line that made the house feel precariously sited, and it frames a turf panel for entertaining large groups. Yet, the garden feels cozy for private evenings spent at home. Bold masses of kangaroo paws and ornamental grasses provide dramatic seasonal color. Anchored by a stacked stone fire pit, a wind-sheltered entertainment area invites contemplation with panoramic views. Whether outside or looking through windows, the garden gives the owner a sense of peace and respite from the demands of daily life.