Thursday, May 28, 2015

2015 Garden Conservancy Open Days ~ Pasadena ~ The Reardon Family Garden

“ I associate the word "wild" with wildflowers, wild roses, things in fields that haven't been hurt yet! So let's be things in fields that have healed and that have grown. Let's be wild.” 

Loads of dirt and recycled concrete were brought in 
You gotta love Google Earth.  In 2011, their cameras documented that moment in time when the outline of a new garden to surround to the 1926 South Pasadena home of George and Susan Reardon was fresh. "The bones" preserved for posterity.  

Espalier apples and sages hint at the abundance beyond 
Fast forward to 2015. The design by Marco Barrantes of La Loma Development Company filled out like Marilyn Monroe.  

Open Garden Day-   The infamous L.A. smog washed away by rain the day before.  Walking from where I had parked- I noted  the air was warm and scented with roses, sage and freshly mown grass. This must be one of the best smelling neighborhoods in America.  A bouquet of freshly picked flowers graced the check-in table.  Things have certainly changed since a sloping lawn was replaced with a wild garden. 

Pass through rustic redwood gate hung from pillars of river rock. Let your imagination run wild at the delight of countryside established on what was once a large- but ordinary- suburban lot.

Despite a dignified exterior- this a garden where the wild heart flourishes. 

With irrigation lines laid below grade level, the efficiency of water works unseen. 

Blueberries inter-planted with fennel- who'd have thunk? Lovers of nature. People who revel in perfume of place.  

 George says he "Lets the garden do its thing." With California poppies, fennel, lettuces and onions free to re-seed where they are happiest, this garden is optimistic- and lower maintenance than one would imagine from the visual abundance.  

Succulents form a tapestry along the transition from front to back gardens
Recycling goes chic. Urbanite- recycled concrete- generously forms walls and pathways.  

A yellow stripe hints at the provenance of this stepping stone.
George remembers the craftsman in charge of paving. He worked with pride. Picking pieces carefully; chiseling profiles and...   

Decomposed granite between steps 
Sometimes reversing top to bottom for artistic effect. 

A trip to Italy was the inspiration for a fully retractable patio sail. 

On the  patio table  were the official before and after garden photos. While before was perfectly civilized-  the wildness of the after is more compelling.  

The wildflower meadow is at its springtime height of beauty. Full of life. 

A dragonfly

A bee 

 But the piece de resistance- a standard pool was re-imagined as a dipping pond. The owners' son promising he likes this better.  "It cools the temps." This is a favorite spot to "Bring your book when it's a 110 degrees and just sit on the rocks." Or jump in. 

His father explained the pool is still under there somewhere. The new bottom is lined with a rubber gasket. The coping hidden beneath a berm through which water is filtered and recirculated 

 There is a magic in this place. It is very eco-correct. But that isn't what I thought of. What I thought of is the romance of walking out the door to pick  greens for salads, herbs for dressings and fresh flowers to fill vases. I thought of all the novels such a garden could inspire- everyone of them with romance at the heart of the story. 

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


  1. Lovely Lydia!
    I had to re read the part about the pool. I was amazed at how their perfectly standard swimming pool was made into what looks like a body of water that God made. I wonder how many creatures they find in there. It looks so natural.

    XO Trisha

  2. Such an interesting garden. Conservation is such a key. Good job. xo

  3. Wonderful transformation.....Very Beautiful Garden, Lydia.

  4. Wow. Just wow. I'm amazed at how well the wildflowers look. And that flirty fennel. I like the idea of it as an ornamental.

  5. Thank you everyone. Trisha- I will ask about "visitors". Nikki- I used bronze fennel in my garden for several years. It wasn't my idea- it escaped the veggie path):-


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