Montecito Residence, Santa Barbara, CA
Garden Dialogues

Garden Dialogues 2023: Santa Barbara, CA

Santa Barbara, CA

This one-of-a-kind Santa Barbara property boasts a Thomas Church landscape and a house by Lutah Maria Riggs.The house features walls of glass, a large biomorphic fireplace built of stone taken from the property, and an ideal siting and orientation to capture the spectacular mountain and oak forest views. Church's concomitant garden design completed a stunning indoor-outdoor living experience central to midcentury architecture.

Montecito Residence, Santa Barbara, CA
Montecito Residence, Santa Barbara, CA - Left Photo by House Beautiful Magazine, 1956; Right Photo By Mark Dishop, 2020

Over the years, the original Thomas Church landscape had fallen into disrepair, having been devastated by drought and substantially modified. Landscape architect Susan Van Atta worked with the current owners to re-establish a garden incorporating the remaining features of the Church landscape, including an original espaliered magnolia tree, a majestic stone bridge, boulder walls, and many other elements. A koi pond features a wooden crossing with a signature Church zigzag form.

Adjacent to the house, original Church hardscape areas and small planting wells were restored, and an original curved, paved path system was adapted and extended in Church fashion. Convenient gardens were replanted to grow kitchen herbs and butterfly-attracting flowering plants. An expansive grove of California oaks was returned to its initial naturalistic setting.

Montecito Residence, Santa Barbara, CA
Montecito Residence, Santa Barbara, CA - Photo by House Beautiful Magazine, Courtesy Blackbird Architects, 1956

The current owners worked with Van Atta Associates and Blackbird Architects to ensure subtle, elegant approaches to design and sustainability in response to the site and the program. As a result of these efforts, the original character of the home is re-established in the spirit of Thomas Church, recreating a unified Modernist house and garden environment as he and Lutah Maria Riggs first envisioned it.

This garden is featured in Thomas Church’s Gardens Are for People (pp.70-71, third edition) and was included in a recent Lutah Maria Riggs documentary.

This Garden Dialogue will be led by Susan Van Atta, FASLA, the project’s landscape architect, and Ken Radtkey, FAIA, its architect. 

Light refreshments will be served.

2.0 LA CES™ professional development hours will be available to attendees.


Refund Policy

Cancellations and Refunds will be granted according to the following schedule:

Up to two (2) weeks in advance: 50% (Deduction represents administrative processing fees)

No refunds will be made for cancellations thirteen (13) days prior to event

No refunds will be made for “No Shows” (a person who registers for a program but who does not cancel registration or attend the program).

Refunds will be processed as they are received or after the conclusion of the program, depending on the program date and when cancellation occurs. Refunds may take five (5) to seven (7) business days to process.