Wednesday, June 18, 2014

South Pasadena is Beautiful~ Part V ~ Timeless Craftsman

What makes Craftsman home and gardens perennial classics? The inherent dignity of  understated elegance.  

The water needs of a thirsty lawn is cinched by planting beds on drip water

The love shown Alan and Gail Malturn's gracious 3,020 foot craftsman home on a quarter acre lot is apparent in the fresh execution of details. Built in 1928 *, that year was filled with fun footnotes: 

Aliotos, on San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf, opens
Buddy, A German Shepherd, becomes the 1st guide dog for US citizen Morris Frank
The United Kingdom lowers the age of women's suffrage from 30-21
Kraft invents Velveeta Cheese
In Paris, "Bolero" by Maurice Ravel, is first performed publicly
The National League accepts the Designated Hitter Rule
Herbert Hoover is elected President of the United States 

A craftsman house is the child of architecture and nature. Instead of fighting for dominance, the elements respect each other. In tone. In simplicity. In careful curation of a multitude of materials.

The craftsman movement  rose as a rebellion favoring the restoration of manual labor following the Victorian era's massive industrialization. Broad porches, creative brickwork, abundant use of natural and honed materials: homes and gardens are not stark in any fashion.

The past 20 years was a time to reimagine the challenges of an older home into  opportunities to improved on the timelessness of design. A long strip of land next to the driveway was filled with roses and perennials. The simple brick edging, a levee preventing the bark from muddying up over the straight stretch of driveway surfaced in river pebbles. 

The porous surface driveway encourages water to percolate into the groundwater table rather than slide into the low-lying garage or scampering off to the ocean as wastewater.   

 Is there anything more glorious in the garden on a hot summer day than to rest beneath the forested canopy of a single, well placed tree? To listen to wind rustle leaves and birds calling to each other? 

Skiring this ancient camphor tree  with river rocks, elegantly solves the issue of the inability of either ground cover  or pavement to battle gnarled roots with grace. 

Art. A simply carved plinth of wood marks the entry to the rear garden, which was designed with large dogs romping about  in mind.

Is this Eve? The sculpture naturally calls the eyes to rest on a deliciously cool garden vignette.  

All gardens should have a bit of humor. Two talavera iguanas across the pool put smiles on visitors faces. 

Betwixt and between the pool and the garage, the homeowners carved a spot for edibles. Citrus, rosemary, sage huddle together, their aromas filling the air on hot days.

Okay- my knowledgeable readers- that  little bee-like creature happily munching at the basil- what is it? 

The true test of a garden's depth of beauty is not measured in how it looks from the curb. the test is when you are leaving: did the garden resonant with your being? 

The gentle crunching of gravel beneath my feet, my spirit felt a peace in understanding that it is possible to create places of timeless beauty.  Both architecture and gardens can remain vital companions to contemporaries of different generations. 

Thank you to Alan and Gail Malturn for opening your garden.  Those who entered, we were blessed to behold what you have created. 

Until we meet again, Thank you for all YOU do to make the world more beautiful!

* Events pulled randomly from for 1928

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

South Pasadena is Beautiful- Part IV - Artists as Garden Designers

"All gardening is landscape painting." 

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Flowers propped in a vase, plucked fresh from the garden- if there was any trend in 2014- this is it. 

Peter Dudar and Sally Marr painted Jo Lane's water wise  garden with artistic sensitivity for color and texture. Perky lavender blooms atop light green finely foliaged  succulents sings to pedestrians passing by "I feel pretty."  

Built in 1923,  the modest home is  bursting with happy details melding garden to home. Note a break from boring: window mullions are  framed in a bold teal. 

 It is difficult for low-chill Southern California to host tulips for consecutively annual glorious blooming seasons. However- the floral bearer of the message "perfect love"  can be replicated in art glass for a lifetime of  enjoyment. 

An expanse of mocha stucco  has potential to be be blah, blah, blah. By punctuating the space with a graceful bit of iron, the eye has something interesting to behold. 

Speaking of interesting, a passageway into the petite backyard Eden begins with a hard right turn from the driveway.  The galley of a patio, lush with a trumpet vine overhead, bisects the house from the open air orchid room. 

There is a palpable coolness to this space. Filled with orchids and hanging plants, the multitude of green leaves tames the afternoon heat.  

Outside, the space is lush with fruit trees. Succulents overflow the rock-edged soaking basins .  

The rarer water is, the more it should be celebrated.  It may be wiser to have gravel flow down pathways than a motor-powered stream: however the magic in this scene is the rippling surface of water in a fountain. 

This fascinated me, how this narrowest of side yards is dressed to impress. The visual foundation was the width of a coat of paint. The creative finish mimicking expensive mason skills,  so graphic a trompe l'oeil. Fabulously more cost effective than changing up actual masonry material. The rose at the sunny entrance acts as a brooch on a youthful bosom- a discrete signal pointing where to look without being obvious about wanting attention.

Rosemary trained flat to the fence is simply genius, this girdling up and in of a plant which easily matures to overtake a narrow space.  

 Arbors are ever so useful in designating focal points.  The white color bringing structure and "wow" to the vignette. 

Blocks for retaining walls require a bit of a initial investment; but they are sturdy investments. Dry laid, they are without the environmental issues posed by railroad timbers for building a raised edible garden.

Judging by the number of people checking out the kidney-shaped stack of stones filled with veggies; leaning over to their partner, chatting about what they would grow to eat in such a space at their home- the local home-centers must have done quite a bit of business in selling retaining blocks afterwards.  

Until we meet again, Thank YOU for all YOU do to make the world more beautiful.