Caldwell Farm, Bristol, WI
Garden Dialogues

Garden Dialogues: Southern California

Beverly Hills, CA


On May 30-31, get exclusive access to private gardens in Los Angeles and hear directly from the designers and their clients about their collaborative process.

How do clients and designers work together? What makes for a great, enduring collaboration? Garden Dialogues provides unique opportunities for small groups to visit some of today’s most beautiful gardens created by some of the most accomplished designers currently in practice.

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Holy Family Chapel
Photo copyright Marion Brenner

Saturday May 30, 10:00am - 1:30pm | Malibu Hills

Special Event in the Malibu Hills

Mission Hill Family Chapel
Pamela Burton of Pamela Burton & Company Landscape Architecture
Butterfly House
A Renowned Authority on landscape design

This Garden Dialogue special event takes attendees to two exceptional private landscapes in the Malibu Hills that are never open to the public.

At the first destination, a twenty-acre landscape in the chaparral of the Santa Monica Mountains, the homeowner wanted to build a private chapel complex - this began a process that took twelve years to complete. The six fountains that define the overall strategy of integrating old and new “the lower chapel and the newly-designed upper chapel” are complemented by the recurring motifs of colorful Mexican ceramic tiles around the fountains and inside the chapels, red tile roofs, Italian cypress trees, native California oak trees, and extensive stone walls that distinguish the different areas of the complex. There are paths through lushly planted, intimate enclosures and areas with broad, dramatic vistas. The result is an oasis with private areas of worship, meditation, ceremony, processionals, and renewal.

At noon attendees will reconvene at Butterfly House where light refreshments will be served. A superb example of the integration of house and garden, Butterfly House has appeared in the nation’s leading home design magazines. The gardens are seamlessly integrated with the cascading California Mediterranean style villa with views of the Pacific Ocean to the south and the Santa Monica Mountains to the north. Entering through a mature olive grove, one is embraced by towering eucalyptus and a California bay laurel hedge. The parking court is edged by a pineapple guava allée that connects the house with the studio and citrus grove.  Integrated with the house are a series of step down entertaining terraces, vest pocket lawns and rose covered pergolas culminating with a walled pool garden. The owners are transitioning the garden to less water dependent plants that attract butterflies and birds throughout the year. Beneath the mature Arbutus 'Marina' and California oaks along the dry creek, they are planting an understory that thrives in dry shade. Buzz Yudell, of Moore Ruble Yudell architects, designed the house and created the master plan for the property. The main house was completed in 1988; the studio and pool garden in 1990; and it was purchased by the current owners in late 2012. more photos

Isabelle Greene Garden Dialogue
Photo © Matt Dayka

Saturday, May 30, 10:30am to 12:00pm | Pacific Palisades

Pacific Palisades Residence
Isabelle C. Greene, FASLA of Isabelle Greene and Associates, Inc.

A paradisiacal cornucopia of fruit trees - apples, apricots, almonds, pears, and plums – is the first inkling this is more than just an older property remodeled for a family with four growing children. There are also pomegranates, limes, oranges, tangerines, lemons, persimmons, and berries; and the brilliant trunk of a specimen Mexican Fig Tree guides the color scheme for the entire project, and its structure provides a major focal point in the garden. 

In the entrance, the artfully feral use of California natives – drought tolerant radiant greens and subtle flowering accents – augments the stead of majestic Oaks that also provide a barrier from the street, creating a border between public and private. The driveway, lined with carefully sculpted boxwood hedges, leads to a gravel path that wends through woodland ferns, flowering Magnolias and an allée of Crape Myrtles. The theme of formality meets rusticity plays out in numerous features including a raised bed kitchen garden, a glass-tiled sandstone fountain, broken concrete terracing, an outdoor fireplace and a pool/spa. One lucky visitor will be able to enjoy all of this from the hanging swing. more photos

Photo by Jorge Rafael

Saturday, May 30, 1:30 to 3:00pm | Santa Monica

Jay Griffith of Jay Griffith

This half-acre site is nestled into the Rustic Canyon neighborhood, and is the second collaboration between the landscape designer and client. Architect Steven Ehrlich designed the striking Modernist home fifteen years ago. It is set on the canyon floor amidst native California sycamores, the only holdover from the previous design. The garden is naturalistic in spirit, but carefully calibrated to include species that thrive in the canyon’s specific microclimate, primarily determined by soil conditions and limited light quality. A dramatic rectilinear elevated pool, based on the house’s strong geometry, offsets the sycamore’s angularity and curvilinear nature. The pool’s design is practical, it’s five-foot tall walls address safety concerns associated with having small children; but It’s also very sculptural, a seamless, buff-colored plaster-coated concrete monolith. The watery surface suggests one of the house’s giant windows. Vast sweeps of understory plantings offer subtle contrasts both textural and though tonal variations of green. more photos

Photo by Jorge Rafael

Saturday, May 30, 3:30 to 5:00pm | Pacific Palisades

Jay Griffith of Jay Griffith

This one-acre site at a 120-foot elevation overlooking Rustic Canyon has breathtaking, panoramic views. Though the California Monterey colonial style house was built in 1933 for the silent film star Billie Dove, every aspect of the garden is new except for the eucalyptus. A long interwoven hedge acts as a green plinth transforming the 150-wide house into a giant sculptural element. Giant raw steel planters created in homage to sculptor Richard Serra repeat this theme. The front garden is patterned after the Court of the Myrtles at the Alhambra in Seville, Spain, while the rear garden embraces the expansive view and is toned in aqueous colored succulent plantings that tie into the rectangular swimming pool. The muted color palette focuses attention on the contrasting plant textures and sculptural qualities, from arcing white Agaves, giant blue Fan Palms, and sinuous Eucalyptus. The south facing kitchen courtyard showcases indigenous California pottery materials and an extensive collection of Hollywood movie garden furniture memorabilia.  more photos

Coldwater Canyon Residence
Photo by David Laurdison

Sunday, May 31, 10:00 to 11:30am | Beverly Hills

Coldwater Canyon Residence
Mark Tessier of Mark Tessier Landscape Architecture

The expansive views from this mountaintop property are a defining feature of this residence. With a passion for modern architecture and art, the clients wanted their garden to reflect their aesthetic and honor the California lifestyle. To meet their needs, the firm crafted a series of family-friendly outdoor rooms for living and entertaining.

To highlight the architecture, concrete provides a unifying thread to join spaces together and define structure—sometimes solid, in other places becoming eroded walls and gravel walkways.  At the entry to this serene garden, a sculptural concrete bridge arches over a Koi pond and water feature. Quiet, meditative pathways lead to gathering spaces shaded by willow trees and guide guests by the pool to floating wood platforms with lounge seating. On a carpet of Ipe wood, open-air dining and entertaining at a custom designed laser-cut tile table is enjoyed under retractable steel shade structures. 

In the rear garden, the designer provided a place for the clients to socialize by an outdoor fireplace, swim in the pool, relax on floating platforms, and take in the views. Native plants are interspersed with the client’s favored planting palette, a diverse selection of succulents and exotic species.  more photos

Saint Cloud Residence
Photo copyright Tom Fox, courtesy SWA

Sunday, May 31, 1:00-2:30pm | Bel-Air

Saint Cloud Residence
John Wong, FASLA, FAAR of SWA

Sited within an established, residential neighborhood in the Los Angeles area, this formal landscape shows how an intimately-scaled site can achieve architectural grandeur. Extending 1.5 acres, the garden accentuates the property’s main house, constructed of French limestone with traditional, classic-period architectural details. The building materials which include limestone, bronze, and wood lattice were carefully chosen and implemented throughout the design to link the outdoor space, gardens, and pool house with the villa. Guests enter the property through a formal entry court lined with an array of trees and shrubbery, including groomed topiary. Designed to correspond with the layout of the home’s interior, a series of interconnected garden rooms maximize residents’ living space and allow for their full enjoyment of the outdoor environment. A simple Mediterranean plant palette featuring sculpted hedges, myrtles and coast live oaks provide the garden rooms with an elegant, outdoor museum quality which the firm intended to showcase the former owner’s collection of bronze sculptures. more photos

Judy Kameon Garden Dialogue
Photo by Erik Otsea

Sunday, May 31, 3:30-5:00pm | Hollywood Hills

Hollywood Hillside Residence
Judy Kameon of Elysian Landscapes

Nestled in one of L.A.’s iconic canyons, a barren one-acre plot was transformed into a lush landscape - embracing the indoor/outdoor experience established by the architecture while preserving the panoramic vistas. A series of linked garden spaces were created for daily use and entertaining and plant materials used strategically to screen out the neighbors, but not the views.

One of the many challenges at the site was integrating two structurally required retaining walls into the design to accommodate the 30-foot elevation change on the steep hillside. An intimate nook with cascading vines creatively masks one wall, while the other area was transformed into an elegant outdoor dining patio that includes a new spa, an L-shaped pool, and a variety of intimate spaces to lounge in and relax.

The dramatic palette of silver, burgundy, blue and green subtropical succulents and Mediterranean perennials, along with the enticing scent of lavender, thyme and rosemary, are layered throughout the property to create a private urban oasis. more photos