scenes from Modernism Week garden tour

I’m going to leave you this Friday with a few images from the self-guided Modern Garden Tour put on by Modernism Week in Palm Springs this past Wednesday. Leaving Long Beach at 7:30 a.m., I arrived just before 10 a.m. to attend landscape architect Steve Martino’s talk, (which was excellent, providing a fascinating nuts-and-bolts deconstruction of his Barragan-influenced “I like walls” design aesthetic and how he gets around fence height restrictions/building codes by calling the privacy barriers “sheds,” which can legally be taller than fences. Privacy is paramount.) After the talk I grabbed a quick coffee and ham croissant before walking up and down Palm Canyon Drive to take in the sights on this chilly-ish day (high 50s), returning to the MW headquarters, the Camp, for tickets a half hour before the tour. (Somewhat confusingly, the tour had been listed as sold out, and I had expected to just attend Mr. Martino’s talk and check out some other sights, but tickets were still available on Wednesday — don’t ask me why. Next time I’ll be sure to book weeks in advance.) The tour started at 1 p.m., covered eight gardens, and by the time all my gawking and looky-looing of stunning houses not on the tour was factored in, I didn’t start the two-hour drive home until 4:30. No time to visit Sunnylands or the Moorten Botanical Garden on this trip. The necklace of mountains encircling the town sparkled with lightly dusted snow and atmospheric swirls of mist along their peaks, with rich browns and velvet greens outlining their corrugated spines. A majestic backdrop for the tour. I don’t get Palms Springs in high summer but I do emphatically understand its appeal in winter.

 photo IMG_1105-001.jpg
many of the gardens felt like private resorts
 photo IMG_1072-001.jpg
In the Little Tuscany neighborhood, home of landscape designer Bret Baughman and his husband, painter and sculptor Brian Hagiwara. Landscape design by Bret Baughman and Erik Munoz/EJM Landscapes
 photo IMG_1064-001.jpg
 photo IMG_1077-001.jpg
 photo IMG_1075-001.jpg
 photo IMG_1079-001.jpg
 photo IMG_1074-001.jpg
 photo IMG_1130-001.jpg
Lots of Euphorbia resinifera on the tour. Coleman Ganoe/Architectural Blue designed the landscape for owners Michael Pontrelli and Dan Burger
 photo IMG_1116-001.jpg
Aloidendron ‘Hercules’ made quite a few appearances on the tour
 photo IMG_1081-001.jpg
Strength in numbers. Multiple Aloidendron ‘Hercules’ at the home of Michael Levine and Kim Lemon, landscape design by William Kopelk/InsideOutside, Inc.

From the tour booklet: “The modern gardens of Palm Springs can be defined by a variety of components: desert elements, low water requirements, artful placement of materials in relation to the architecture and unique features used in this climate such as boulders, rock top-dressings, fire pits and pools. These gardens include excellent examples of low-water use desert plants and other materials, designed to create delightful outdoor spaces that take advantage of Palm Springs’ relationship to living both indoors and outdoors, along with its mountain vistas and jaw-dropping views.”

A couple of small, visibility-obscuring sandstorms just before entering the city established the desert’s bonafides. What an amazing place.

Have a great weekend.

This entry was posted in garden travel, garden visit, pots and containers, succulents and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to scenes from Modernism Week garden tour

  1. Renee says:

    Gorgeous pictures! It’s amazing to me how that’s the same desert as mine, but how altitude and local climates can make a huge difference. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Kris P says:

    Oh, if only I could exercise that kind of restraint with my planting schemes! Thanks for a glimpse of the tour. It sounds as though you made great use of your time with the lucky break on the tour ticket.

  3. Denise says:

    @Renee, I noted that Agave attenuata was not grown, one of the most frost sensitive, but I did see desmettiana — I wish I’d had you along to clue me in on the climate nuances.
    @Kris, I think restraint comes naturally with these kinds of summer temps. I did see a few gardens where the planting is denser. I’ll try to post on some of these next week.

  4. Nell says:

    I *love* the visiting birds among the Aloedenron and barrel cactus in the Levine/Lemon garden. The modernist desert aesthetic can be a little sterile, and they provide much-needed movement, randomness, and connection to the larger environment.

    What a day you had! The mountains at their showiest. Look forward to more shots from the visit.

  5. Elaine says:

    Great structure and very simplistic in it’s plantings with nice structure. However, looks too much like a property no one lives in. All that white would have me running for the sunglasses.

  6. Peter Herpst says:

    I so admire the beauty of line, form, and plant restraint in these gardens but could never pull this sort of thing off in my own garden. It’s the difference between someone who likes playing with all the paints on the palette versus an artist who selectively uses just what is necessary to create stunning work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *