As anyone in Hollywood knows well, sequels often disappoint. To redesign and improve on success without gilding the lily is one of the great challenges in any discipline. So when the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles acquired the 20th-century sculpture collection of benefactors Fran and Ray Stark, and needed a place to show it, the museum wisely returned to Dennis McGlade, a partner at the Olin Partnership and the original designer of the Getty’s landscaping, for expertise.
We here at Garden Design have an enduring fascination with Dawnridge, the legendary Beverly Hills, California, home of Tony Duquette (1914-1999), one of the 20th century’s most prolific and influential designers. We asked contributing editor Paul O’Donnell to talk to its present owner, Hutton Wilkinson, longtime business partner and friend of Duquette. Wilkinson not only preserved the house and garden but managed to transform the estate into an ever-evolving laboratory of ideas.
Four years ago, musician Nate Mendel bought a house in the Los Angeles hills surrounded by a scrappy lawn and a few big trees. It sat wide open to the street, and an energy-guzzling swimming pool swallowed much of its half-acre lot. But the 5,000-square-foot house itself was a gem, a low-slung ranch built in 1953 and untouched since. Mendel, bass player for the often-touring post-grunge band the Foo Fighters, felt certain it could be transformed into a welcoming home base. While its restorative mountain and valley views were already in place, the garden needed major help.
Janet Loera clips cilantro from the vertical gardens at Homegirl Cafe.
Janet Loera works as a line cook at Homegirl Cafe now, but a few years ago, fresh out of jail, she spent most of her time in one of the gardens that provide this downtown Los Angeles restaurant with freshly harvested organic produce. “I was one of the first girls in the garden,” says the 21-year-old, cutting cilantro from a hanging herb garden outside the cafe. “That’s where I started.”
Southern California-based landscape architect Heather Lenkin took an old driveway and mound of dirt behind one of the Los Angeles area’s oldest homes and transformed it into an outdoor living area complete with a trellised dining space, living room with fireplace, Jacuzzi, playhouse (for the homeowner’s 5-year-old twins), cutting garden and a fully stocked outdoor kitchen perfect for year-round entertaining.
Hollywood notables judge real estate by three qualities: privacy, privacy, and privacy. When Marg Helgenberger, longtime star of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, shopped for a new home five years ago, she found her sanctuary in a Spanish-Mediterranean revival on a corner lot in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Brentwood. Landscaping enveloped three sides of the property, with elderly ficus trees on the front and north sides. At the back of the house, a columned loggia afforded a sequestered entertaining space.
If you don't live in Los Angeles—and even if you do—you're probably surprised when I tell you that I began writing about plants when I moved here. I know, you think, there are lots of palms, sure, but aren't so many of them neon? Yes, there's a bit of flourescent greenery, but the city's brightest colors are in the bougainvillea. Los Angeles may have been built with tinsel, concrete, silicone, and celluloid, but a world of plants grows in the spaces between.