Sycamore Canyon

One of my favorite things about this house is seeing the pink stucco wall of Madame Ganna Walska’s Lotusland every time I look out my window. Since we’re practically part of Lotusland (okay, I’ll admit that’s a stretch), OF COURSE we like to think of our little garden as Lotusland South. To me, that means distinct gardens, each organized around a theme, with a little whimsy and a lot of personality.

The front yard was a single plane, sloping towards the house. (Runoff sat at the foundation of the house.) It was dominated by asphalt -- everywhere. There were some fabulous trees: a majestic live oak, a deodar, a liquidamber, a gnarled ornamental pear and some smaller tropical-looking material flanking the driveway entry (assorted Palms, Giant Bird-of-Paradise). The balance of the front yard was planted to junipers that had grown together to form an impenetrable 4’ high thicket festooned with rat nests.

To add life and texture to the formerly asphalt-laden front garden, we used three-level terracing with broad, low stone steps between terraces. Features include a trio of Chitalpas to frame the top of the Lotusland gate, matching metal benches, pots with dramatic plantings and beds of blousy pink-tinged foliage and pink-hued flowers. A central fountain is surrounded by the grey-green softness of Silver Carpet ground covering nested between surrounding flagstone. 

The backyard was dominated by an expansive flat lawn bordered by a sweep of ivy and perimeter screening. Mature trees include a dozen show-stopping live oaks, a large she-oak and some relic pines. Concrete paths and a small patio were removed.  The backyard of this house looked like a park when we arrived. It was absolutely the right feel --- it just needed it to be low water, low maintenance, fire resistive and more user-friendly. Oh – and beautiful!

We kept the park-like feel, retaining the mature trees and the perimeter screening and the sweep of ivy. Everything else is new. A flat lawn is replaced by drifts of perennial grasses. Garden features include low broad stone steps and grading to create distinct spaces, two dining areas, new sandstone lined pond and pots with dramatic plantings to add punch throughout the yard. Concrete pavers make the patio a natural extension of the home, complete with firepit.

Bringing the outside in was a top priority, and purposeful design features make it seamless.