Montecito – A contemporary interpretation of San Ysidro Ranch, the property takes advantage of its topography with a series of subtle terraces that helped to pronounce views and maintain privacy behind the Oaks. All of the indigenous Santa Barbara sandstone was utilized to build the walls, steps and even the coping around the pool. Contrasting terrace walls were form poured with rustic wood and concrete to echo the stone… A constant play between wild and native west with refinements in every detail and transition.
Meadow Wood Lane
Montecito – A four-acre Tudor-style estate nestled at the end of a private drive. As the guesthouse, pool and cabana were added the surrounding landscape is comprised almost entirely of native plants in a Westernized rendition of the English classical garden style. Sustainable practices integrated beautifully into the design with swales to treat all storm water and the boulder creek bed was recovered from years of overgrowth.
The fireplace and steel pergola were added to the main house and we continued the trend of brick hardscapes that transitioned to stone in the second phase. Over the years we have moved the landscape away from traditional lawns and have one of the most successful meadows of California native Field Sedge located in the dappled light of the Oak trees.
Santa Barbara – In partnership with Architect Susan Sherwin, we transformed her San Roque contemporary residence into a wild, woven texture of grasses, sedges, phormiums and reeds that becomes a journey of textures to the front door. It’s an experience to walk through and be one with as it continues to grow and evolve. With it’s huge native Sycamores and Western Redbuds tucked in between, this suburban landscape has become an outstanding habitat for native birds and offers a delicious contrast to the traditional homes of Triangle Park.
Gaviota Street – Down a gravel lane sits the most perfect place for a wedding…and with Collette and Phil Kaplan as clients almost anything is possible. Bold and romantic is where this landscape has gone. The charming cottage with the enclosed courtyard was the first focus where we replaced the old arbor with a freestanding pergola fit for the ancient Wisteria. Followed by a new stone fountain, cobbles and formal boxes the design exploded and continued from there… We added an entire field of lavender and lined the drive with fruitless Olives. These give way to mixed borders of cottage flower gardens, trained rambunctious roses, a formal kitchen garden with rosemary hedges and herbs… and this is only half the story. In the back sits a barn turned studio and apartment above with a vineyard beside it. Next year we will be finishing the poolside lawns for one of the prettiest gems of the wine country that is just steps from downtown Los Olivos.
Los Angeles – Taking away a lawn from the historic neighborhood of Hancock Park and replacing it with a landscape on par with formal tradition while utilizing very little water was the amazing challenge of this landscape. We came up with the idea of the “Chevron Parterre”. Quite simply it is a chevron stripe pattern of Lavender and Santolina on a perfect grid. African Boxwood replaces the traditional Boxwood and requires less than half the water. The pea gravel mulch gives it a Mediterranean touch, while never losing step with the appeal of the neighborhood.
Montecito – Designed while working at Van Atta Associates, the nature of this garden, like Meadow Wood Lane, takes its cues from the English style. The beautiful geography of the site and the existing old stone wall incited us to bring a major water feature into the core of the design and create a get-away within the estate. In looking back I would say that designing with intimacy in mind, each garden room becomes an invitation for a longer conversation whether it’s next to the fire, the stream or the pond.
San Ysidro Road
Montecito – This beautiful 1920’s Mediterranean behind a creamy white wall is one of Montecito’s many treasures. The Saltillo tiled drive was removed and replaced with a gravel auto court that can easily be transformed into an outdoor party venue should the need arise. It also acts as part of the grand entry back into the home. The new landscape focuses entirely on drought tolerant Mediterranean plants that recall images of Spain and Italy. Forgotten spaces are sometimes the best opportunities for design, which was the case in the kitchen yard. Originally a mud space and area for refuse, it is now the site of a productive kitchen garden with fig, apricot, and table grape espalier with stone edged vegetable beds.
Camino Viejo Road
Santa Barbara – Famous Mid-Century Architect Rex Lotery designed the Santa Barbara contemporary as his final home in the early 90’s. Purchased in 2012 by Marc and Mara Dworsky (Mara is a well known Architect herself) they added the incredible art studio, pool, spa, outdoor kitchen and lounge addition and we completely remastered the landscape.
Conceptually we agreed to follow in Rex’s spirit of having contemporary lines contrasted by the wild experience of the hillside location. The landscape is a composition of California Native meets South Africa with emphasis placed on grand collections of some of the most unusual Aloes and other plant curiosities of the African Cape.
Truly focused on sustainability, all stormwater is held and treated on site with the addition of extensive bioswales and a Buffalo Grass meadow designed to flood and hold large storm events. Only the lowest meadow is mowed on occasion and the landscape is maintained without chemicals and produced an amazing array of fruits in its very first year… Those great Olive trees? African as well.
San Vicente Blvd.
West Hollywood – Denenberg Fine Art Gallery. An iconic building just three blocks from the Pacific Design Center, with architecture by Michael Morrison, with his colleague Lloyd Wright, was the builder-architect-owner from whom the Denenberg’s bought the house in 2001. It had been completed in 1969 after a number of years in development as first one colonial house on the northernmost lot was torn down to be replaced by 1/2 the current structure. He moved into that 1/2 while he tore down and built the other half, joining them in a double-thick wall at the kitchen entrance.
Hidden from public view stands the new secret garden behind the first set of relocated gates presumed to be designed by Michael Morrison. Once you walk through the gates you can view the newly created steel clad studio designed by Architect Toben Windahl as centerpiece to the new contemporary Orchid and shade garden.
The gallery gardens feature an update to the Citrus grove with raised steel planters and abundant herbs, while retaining focus on the mature Wisteria that engages the gallery window. Along San Vicente the main façade gardens received a garden-lift that included redesign of the bamboo, a vertical necessity along with ground plane minimalist and modernist exercises block contrasts. The encounter is meant to be different and surprising from automobile to pedestrian with a gripping simple contrast between the lush greens and dark textures that reminded me of vineyards planted in the black volcanic rocks and ash soils of the Canary Islands.