It’s Garden Conservancy Open Days time again! If you’ve not read any of my previous Open Days posts (I’ll add their links at the end of this first 2019 post) let me tell you a bit about the program. Open Days is a nationwide community of gardeners with a passion for teaching and inspiring each other. Since 1995 Open Days has welcomed more than a million visitors to noteworthy private gardens in 41 states, all under the umbrella of the non-profit Garden Conservancy’s mission “to save and share outstanding American gardens for the education and inspiration of the public.”
As a Garden Conservancy member I receive a directory each spring listing, state by state, the gardens and landscapes included in the year’s Open Days offering. As a rule, the California gardens are amongst the earliest of the season although in the last few years a Bay Area day has been scheduled in the fall. Some years I barely have received my directory before I have to get on the road to see as many as I can fit in my schedule. All of the information is also available on the Garden Conservancy’s website http://www.gardenconservancy.org/opendays along with more details about their Garden Extras and Digging Deeper events and their local partners. The directory itself is great resource and I keep mine from year to year.
California’s first Open Days event took place this past weekend and showcased five gardens in the Hancock Park and Windsor Square neighborhoods of Los Angeles. The drive from my San Joaquin Valley home requires a crack of dawn departure to ensure I am ready and waiting at the garden I have designated as first on my route to ensure that I get to see them all by 4 pm closing. This year’s Los Angeles selections are all quite close to each other so there is at least a possibility of finding time for lunch. My husband has opted in so I might even catch a nap on the way down. The morning air was cool and crisp as we navigated off a busy urban street to a small neighborhood where most of the homes were shaded by the canopies of mature trees. I think it’s going to be a great day!
THE MEADOW LANE GARDEN IN HANCOCK PARK
This 1907 painted shingle historic home sits a stone’s throw away from very busy Wilshire Avenue but feels as it it is miles away. The front garden is simple and snuggled up against the large covered porch draped in wisteria.
This front door and the entrance to the back garden are reached via the motor court which is shade by this magnificent eucalyptus tree.
I’ll take any corrections on the tree identification–my guess is based on the smooth slightly mottled bark. I simply could not back out into the street far enough to capture the actual height of this tree which offered shade to a large part of the home’s facade.
A petite, wooden playhouse sits just outside the back garden’s vine covered entrance, along with a few pots and an old-fashioned rocking chair.
The garden is very narrow and falls off to the back in a steep slope which has been extensively terraced to offer level ground at several elevations as you descend. The brick path leading you into the garden is set in gravel and curves around another huge tree. You are seeing the full width of the garden at this point.
A couple of steps up to the house level reveals a wooden deck (again built around another very large tree) with a casual dining area screened from the neighbors yard with trellis and lattice work.
The brick path opens into a small terrace of the same material with a shaded dining area. I have purposefully not adjusted the exposure on any of these photos to give the a true sense of the intimacy and sense of enclosure these very large trees offer in this long narrow garden. The masses of greenery, both in the ground and potted, effectively disguise how close the property line fencing is to this cozy space.
A small utility space is hidden between the garage and a foliage covered lattice screen which is also seen in the far right of the photo just before this one–again an indication of the garden’s size.
The ornate iron chairs on the right mark the end of the brick terrace level but the slope down is again camouflaged by the abundance of plant material in the ground and in pots.
Looking down into the lowest part of the garden from the brick terrace.
The staircase railing disappears into the vines draping it.
A few steps down the wooden staircase offers another level to sit and enjoy the garden from a slightly different vantage point. A small fountain gurgles in the background and pops of color stand out amongst the primarily green landscape.
Seen as you descend the steps into the meadow part of the garden at its lowest level.
Looking back uphill from the small Carex meadow to the back of the garage. Not easily visible are the several extra terraces created by piles stone and broken concrete which step the plantings up giving them more depth.
The Carex meadow acts as a wee front garden for this petite rose covered cottage furnished as a sitting room.
A massive and gnarled bearing fig tree towers above the cottage with closely planted perennials and shrubs beneath its canopy.
A Philadelphus, or mock orange, covered with sweetly scented white blooms lights up the shade created by the fig.
The stone path through the meadow offers a shady swinging spot and a bit of bright potted color.
Looking back up towards the house which is totally hidden by the tree cover. On the right is the back of the garage.
A spot of bright sun across from the swing is the perfect place for a few veggies, in this case blueberries and brussels sprouts.
A couple of cushioned Adirondack chairs stand at the ready for anyone who is just tired out after making the descent!
View from the furthest point of the garden back uphill to the tree canopy. This charming garden warmed my heart with the attention to detail and its frowsy country charm. It is clear evidence of homeowners who not only love but also live in their garden. I think the basic geography of this lot would have scared off many of us as being just too much to deal with but these homeowners have created a garden with classic, yet casual style, using the elevation challenges to their advantage in creating very useable space.
Previous Garden Conservancy Open Days gardens can be seen in these posts: A little Mendocino madness…, Mendocino madness…#2, Mendocino madness #3…, More Mendocino madness…#4, Mendocino madness #5 at last…, LA dreaming…, Tech meets (very little) turf…, Tech meets (very little) turf #2…
This year’s Los Angeles gardens are deserving of individual posts so next up will be THE RHEINSTEIN GARDEN IN HANCOCK PARK.