resort style

The Garden Conservancy’s Open Days for Los Angeles was held last Sunday, and its five gardens fairly well covered the breadth of idiosyncratic ambitions people have for the land immediately surrounding their homes — from verdant gardens supporting lush plant life to urban havens allowing their owners to comfortably exist outdoors. The most fully realized vision of resort style belonged to the Davis garden. Swimming, cooking, sunning, watching movies or a dancing fire — most of these activities are either impossible to do in my garden or difficult to arrange, and I wouldn’t un-plant it or change that for anything. But…I wouldn’t mind being invited over to this one for repeat visits during the hot and sultry months of July, August, September…

From the GC’s website:

The Davis family bought this 1918 Italian Renaissance home in 2005. In 2017, we began an extensive renovation of the back yard to better fit our grown-up family! With the help of architect J. Thomas Kaiser, designer Donna Berg, and landscaper Isidore Orozco, we came up with an innovative plan. The original garage was removed and replaced. A trellis was built alongside both entrances to this room and ‘Eden’ climbing roses are making their way up and over. A dramatic pergola was built with an outdoor kitchen, table for twelve, living room, fireplace, and outdoor entertainment system. In the garden you will find citrus trees, azaleas, white star jasmine, Schefflera arboricola, Chinese elm, dwarf mondo grass, boxwoods, hydrangeas, Hawaiian ginger, camellias, and Pittosporum mock orange.

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bamboo as privacy screen
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the pink periscope appearing oddly out of place is actually a flamingo pool float
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10 Responses to resort style

  1. Nell says:

    That’s so appealing and efficiently laid out for people who entertain, and it *almost* has enough plants (easily remdied). The effort is clearly to make visitors comfortable rather than awe them. Call me when you get that high-summer invitation!

  2. Kris P says:

    It’s an elegantly beautiful space for a dinner party, although I wouldn’t give up my plants to accommodate the set-up. Heck, I’m even a bit peeved about losing 5 feet of my back patio (prime container garden space!) for the purpose of expanding our tiny indoor kitchen.

  3. ks says:

    A beautiful environment but this is not a garden. If I was not a gardener I can see how this would be gratifying, and pleasurable. And if I was invited over(not in the correct income level) I bet it would be a nice evening.

  4. Hmmm, leaves me cold…

  5. Denise says:

    @Nell, the flow and scale was handled really well, and placing the large table on the diagonal was right too.
    @Kris, I know, I count garden space by the foot too!
    @Kathy, I ended up spending more time here than I intended — someone shut the designated entryway gate, and for 5 or so long minutes tour goers were locked inside. The utility side entrance gates however were open.
    @Loree, definitely a SoCal thing — I can’t see this working in Portland with or without a plant obsession!

  6. Saurs says:

    Can’t really object to the functionality of the design—not my cup of tea, but live and let live (for, when it comes to our betters, we’ve no other option). But I do weep a bit at the lost opportunities re plant selection. If you’re going to take advantage of the mildness and just live out there all four seasons you might want to actually experience those seasons to their fullest and most visually entertaining, rather than go heavy on the evergreens and ever-flowerers. Something to be said for the creeping New Perennialism that threatens conversion on us all: you can with a bit of effort get quite a top-dollar show for a middle-shelf price, though you probably couldn’t beat the actual cost of these planters’s 20th century contents. But maybe the threat of messy seedheads and fallen leaves and the necessity of shearing the odd dormant clumping grass would cramp the corporate, by way of wholesale, jet set-style. A restrained landscape, to be sure, worthy of any of your homegrown polytech architects. And kudos, truly, to them for not replicating the more impractical of the prevailing fads.

  7. Nell says:

    It seems hard to square the image of the approach to the eating/lounging/swimming space (the one showing the flamingo pool float) with the assertion that this isn’t a garden. Sure, it’s a more static garden than most of us would be happy with, but there are plants providing shade, screening, sound, and scent. As Saurs notes, changes and additions to the plant palette could add seasonality and movement, and benefits for fauna.

  8. Denise says:

    @Saurs, in looking at this design, I purposely avoided editorializing or bringing in a plant-centric bias for a lot of reasons. Primarily because gardens can mean lots of different things to people, and the daily taking care of plants is not at the top of everyone’s wish list. I think landscape architects/designers do an important job that is not often celebrated — buildings and interiors get all the press. Making people comfortable outdoors is a worthy goal, (e.g., where they won’t be reliant on indoor AC all summer). I’m always shocked by the amount of unused space surrounding homes left to go to lawn or landscaped in a way that is completely inaccessible/unusable for humans and not much benefit to wildlife either. I do think the designer fulfilled his brief in a fairly clean, understated design, and his clients appear to be thrilled with the result, wishing to share it with the public. True, there is very little complex garden maintenance to be performed, and I think that is by design too — unless the owner is a hands-on gardener, that kind of complex gardening help is difficult to find. Love having this conversation!
    @Nell, I think that is a great choice of words, the static versus dynamic. I’m always chasing dynamism in the garden, but this design has an entirely different focus.

  9. hb says:

    Very common type of outdoor arrangement in Newport Beach and the like. It’s good for a lot of people, and actually this example has many more plants than most of this type. It is a superior example of its type.

    I like green and white–makes for a very serene, elegant feeling–though I don’t have the discipline to limit myself to that combo.

  10. Peter says:

    Well done outdoor rooms but, like some other folks who’ve commented, I prefer a more dynamic, plant-packed space like your garden.

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