Minimalist Gardens

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Josquin
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Minimalist Gardens

Postby Josquin » Thu Mar 27, 2008 7:27 am

A discussion of "midcentury" minimalist garden fad vs. the nativist approach of some modernist architects, like Frey and Stewart.

http://www.latimes.com/features/home/la ... 0634.story

Minimalism
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Nativist
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SDR
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Postby SDR » Thu Mar 27, 2008 10:40 am

I like your second photo. Who's the architect, do you know ?


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Postby scowsa » Thu Mar 27, 2008 11:00 am

The article identifies it as the Edris House, a mid-'50s creation of architect E. Stewart Williams.

While the article makes valid points about the impact of being too minimalist, just posting the contrasting photos misses out the fact that the Edris house was built on/into an existing landscape, whilst many new homes do not have that opportunity.
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Josquin
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Minimalist Gardens

Postby Josquin » Thu Mar 27, 2008 1:38 pm

The crux of the article seemed to point to the nativist as an alternative modernist landscaping to the recent emphasis on minimalist xeriscaping.

Home owners do have the opportunity to restore native landscaping, but as the article pointed out many homeowners lack the knowledge of the native plants or local ecology. Native restoration gardens require a bit of effort and knowledge about the local flora to be successful; it is much easier to do a minimalist xeriscape.

The Edris and Frey house were designed with the intention of leaving the native landscaping intact and they have been well maintained. It would have been nice to see a picture of a modernist native restoration garden.

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Postby rockland » Thu Mar 27, 2008 3:25 pm

The article links to this collection of photos...
http://www.psmodcom.com/Architects%20Pages/Edris.html

Nice site and photos.

I have to agree with most of the article. A shame something surviving without water
and beneficial to the environment is ripped out for an extreme minimal look. I'm not
familiar with the desert, but i think a compromise could be met with less lawn, native plants,
and still have a minimal yard? without stripping what the critters need? Why so extreme?

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Postby Izzy » Thu Mar 27, 2008 7:49 pm

agreed Rockland. most people (myself included) don't have the skill to pull off the more native plants/natural look and they see the spare look as easier to achieve. It gives me hope for my front yard as the people before us (in their own unfashionable way) tried to do the more natural rock and plant look. Maybe i can work with it! The squirrels and birds do seem to enjoy our front yard...
Sometimes it does seem that modern fanatics are taking the minimalism a bit too far, there has to be a middle ground...

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Native Restoration Garden

Postby Josquin » Thu Mar 27, 2008 8:25 pm

Here's some photos of the Native Restoration Garden at Lloyd Wright's 1946 Gainsburg House in the Los Angeles area. This garden is a few years old. The pictures were taken last April.

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Oak, Mountain Lilac, Buckwheat, and California Poppies

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This area used to be covered with a thicket of oleander.

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Postby rockland » Fri Mar 28, 2008 12:24 pm

This site has lots of information.
http://www.wildflower.org/collections/

I spent some time at the Lady Bird center. It is near Austin. Impressive
what they have done to collect rainwater, embrace native species etc.

'Mr Smarty Plants' :D ,has some good advice. (avoid the bargain HD plants.
They are often shipped in and don't do as well. Not really a savings in the
long run)
We're lucky that our neighbors are the 'let it be type'. Lots of groundcovers and no one
waters their lawn. The architect must have been involved in original plantings.

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Native Garden

Postby Josquin » Mon Mar 31, 2008 5:32 pm

Here is another example of a restoration garden taken last Sunday. The house is the Vore house of 1949 by Leland Evison in Pasadena, California. Spring is indeed here in the San Rafael Hills.

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Postby Carlos Araujo » Mon Mar 31, 2008 6:58 pm

Nice pics Josquin. Is our garden on the Theodore Payne tour this year?
"Todos vuelven a la tierra en que nacieron" Ruben Blades

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Postby egads » Mon Mar 31, 2008 7:43 pm

Do keep in mind that a lot of homes out in Palm Springs are weekend retreats. It's all about sun and debauchery, no time for yard work. :D

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Native Garden

Postby Josquin » Mon Mar 31, 2008 8:43 pm

Carlos,
I don't know. I haven't checked yet. Have you seen it since you left?

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Postby Carlos Araujo » Tue Apr 01, 2008 11:18 am

Josquin,

Sorry about the e-typo! I meant to ask if your garden is on the tour this year. I moved last June to San Clemente and I'm working on my mid-century townhouse. A relative recently sent pictures of my former Glendale house, the ceanothus and poppies are in bloom. I don't think that the garden will be on tour.
"Todos vuelven a la tierra en que nacieron" Ruben Blades

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Native Garden

Postby Josquin » Tue Apr 01, 2008 2:00 pm


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yes! what's outside is as important as inside!

Postby Slim and Gabby » Mon Apr 07, 2008 12:15 pm

GREAT topic, folks!
We have gotten a bit behind on our interior intentions because we have gotten so caught up in OUTDOOR restoration.

This is the first public discussion we've seen on this very important topic. Just as destructive as the insensitive HD makeovers are the bad yard makeovers. A lot of older homes have gardens with an order and “patinaâ€￾ that is irreplaceable. There's a reason why you see all those old homeowner books and stereotypes of the 50's guy in the yard! That said, xeriscapes can be low maintenance and ecologically sound. If design-types can afford a gardener or landscaper, they can afford to choose one who will keep the best things going.

Many folks new to the love of their mid century homes overlook the great concepts ONGOING outside. We are fortunate enough to have our 1960 home on a gorgeous lot that has been as untrampled as the inside of the home was. We still don't know who our architect was, but he placed the house so that our 40+ oaks, some over 200yrs old are intact and healthy, without any undue root impact or excessive watering so common in the coastal scrub zone.

Our lot had a small lawn that we just let go, but otherwise, have had minimal issues replacing non-native plants. I won't say we are maintanance free, but by respecting the natives and existing plantings, we have had the best wildflower show in town, as well as lots of comments from neighbors. Due to our restoration efforts, we have invited new critters such as screech owls, quail and more with careful planning. Yes, we LOVE to find great lighting fixtures in our adventures, but now we are just as excited to find new/old plants, rocks and plans. It’s all part of the same thing, and just as much fun.

FYI: back in the day nativist gardens were referred to as "rock gardens" and there are TONS of period resources if you know where to look. The guide for both the inside and outside of our restoration is still Sunset magazine, circa 1960. Any of those old mags will give you a great insight into how to get the look with a minimum of effort.

Just ordered new camera. We will try to post some pix soon. SO glad to hear folks getting sensitive about this. We wouldn't trade our trees for some little soldiered grasses and a sickly banana palm, ever!
Pen-gu-ins is pracatically chickinz, and I hates to see chickinz cry so much, I has to put’em outta ther mizzery!

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Central Coast Restoration

Postby Josquin » Mon Apr 07, 2008 12:41 pm

I would love to see some pictures of your central coast restoration garden. Our property at one time was covered with oaks, but overwatering and inappropriate trimming killed most of them. When we bought our property the oaks had been shaped to look like large mushrooms. See picture below.

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cool house josquin....lollipops or no

Postby Slim and Gabby » Tue Apr 08, 2008 9:44 am

Josquin:
Yeah, lollipops and mushrooms get a bit tired, but I can see the desire to create/maintain a viewshed. Looks like someone had good intentions but no real idea how to carry them out. You might consult a good tree guy and see if he can come up with any ideas for corrections. We were lucky enough to find the guy who has always taken care of our trees working in a neighbor's yard; he proceeded to tell me which of the great trees around town were "his" and which of the monstrosities had been hacked by others. Ask around if you see someone with a good natural look in your area.

Your home looks great-I am guessing you have a lot of nice bright filtered light. That bank of windows must be really pleasing-I'm guessing there is lots to watch. Looks like you are in a foothill area and could probably invite lots of wildlife to return to your yard.

I saw someone else mention the guy at Las Pilitas nursery in Santa Margarita. He's got a great website, but is realllllly a handful in person. We live in that area, and while he is a great resource on line, he will nag your ear off in person (if we wanted a lawn, why would we shop with him???), and he is so macho about how tough his plants are that they actually don't grow that well once you take them home. Anyone in CA who gets a chance to purchase from Native Sons nursery (at better nursery and garden shops) will not be disappointed.

The best resource EVER for CA native gardening we've found is the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden. We joined on our first visit, and have taken great classes and gotten wonderful plants and ideas from their nursery.
I highly recommend a visit for anyone in CA. The grounds are quite large, and you can take some great hikes; their bookstore is the best I've seen for native gardening-you could look elsewhere a LONG time before finding the selection they have. I can't recommend the book "California Native Plants for the Garden" enough. You can buy it through the garden here:

http://www.sbbg.org/index.cfm?fuseactio ... prod_id=16

There are loads of really unusual specimen plants that have that "wow" factor, even some have that great MCM outer space look. Check out the vines "dutchman's breeches" or native clematis varieties for that great Dr. Seuss look. Always fine with an MCM house, and still native and supportive of wildlife. I always enjoy looking through our colored glass windows at the critters....these goals are not mutually exclusive.

Anyone who wants to see natives done with class should visit the SB Botanic Garden :
http://www.sbbg.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.home
or at least browse the resources.
The neighborhood surrounding it has some fine architecture. It would make a great weekend trip to go to the garden and then just cruise the area around Foothill Rd looking for detail ideas. Not all the homes are MCM, but there are plenty of noteworthy ones.

Keep us posted on how your garden plans evolve. And if you have room to add a couple of structurally interesting native trees, think about CA Buckeye (night blooming fragrant flowers like lilacs and great grey trunk structure) or a large Manzanita specimen (Howard Mc Minn gets big).
Pen-gu-ins is pracatically chickinz, and I hates to see chickinz cry so much, I has to put’em outta ther mizzery!

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one more great No CA resource for nativists

Postby Slim and Gabby » Tue Apr 08, 2008 10:00 am

Oh,
It looks like you are in San Rafael?
I had a funky MCM cabin in Boulder Creek (Santa Cruz) before I came to Central CA. The redwoods were swell in the abstract, but living in a 600 sq ft box under them became oppressive after the first few years. My sister dubbed the style of that cabin "Early Mr. Ed". You know, the exaggerated black iron hinges/handles and lots of knotty pine?

Anyway. If you want a great side trip and resource for native plantings, there is a really excellent place in San Mateo County. It's on highway 35, on the ridgeline between Half Moon Bay and Stanford.

http://www.yerbabuenanursery.com/
It's very parklike, and they have a tea party thing that would be very popular with certain folks.


BUT: if you are in Marin county and can see this woman, I am TOTALLY jealous. I have just started diving into her work, but she is the the diva of the native set and just over the hill in Bolinas. I just ordered one of her books about attracting wildlife through restoration and can't wait to see it it. Check out larner seeds:
http://www.larnerseeds.com/
One look at the photo on her homepage and you'll see what we WISH we could do on our lot! Wow!

Have fun. For us, this is really as much fun as all the restoration inside....and it's a whole new set of nerdy folks to hang with!
Pen-gu-ins is pracatically chickinz, and I hates to see chickinz cry so much, I has to put’em outta ther mizzery!

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Native Gardens

Postby Josquin » Tue Apr 08, 2008 11:27 am


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Oh, THAT san rafael...

Postby Slim and Gabby » Tue Apr 08, 2008 7:28 pm

Oh, I have heard great things about Theodore Payne....looks like WE need to take a field trip!

Can't wait to read Lerner's works... so glad to hear yet another great review.

Oooh, a WATER feature. Extra good. Sounds like you have a great spot. It's always such a heart-breaker when folks mess with the oaks. I guess I have just had really good luck with the trees that come into my life. Glad to hear you have a plan. Would love to see pix as you develop.

Wish we could get a good snap of our wildflowers right now. The golden violets have lasted up through the poppies and lupines-who'd a thunk?
We'll try to see what we can get and post.

Thanks again for restoring our faith!
Pen-gu-ins is pracatically chickinz, and I hates to see chickinz cry so much, I has to put’em outta ther mizzery!

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Payne Foundation

Postby Josquin » Tue Apr 08, 2008 9:12 pm

Theodore Payne Foundation is great when you want to purchase plants or education, but if you want to see the plants, go to Rancho Santa Ana Botanical gardens in Claremont. From the Payne Foundation, you can be in Claremont in an hour's travel time straight down the 210 on a weekend.

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Photo from the South side: Salvia Greggii, a Texas native, with California poppies in the background.

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Postby Carlos Araujo » Tue Apr 08, 2008 9:15 pm

I'm enjoying this discussion. I've also read Larner and I place her somewhere between sage and prophet in my pantheon of heros.

For S&G there's Las Pilitas Nursery, but you probably knew that already. For Josquin there's also Tree of Life in Capistrano, a drive for you but worth the trip, especially after a refreshing warm beverage and treats from their cozy Casa La Paz. They sell retail and wholesale. If you're buying lots of plants I recommend using a native consultant who has access to wholesale prices. I highly recommend Orchid Black of Pitcher Sage Design, she's in Pasadena.

A few native gardens and (mostly modern) architecture in south OC worth noting are the Muth Interpretive Center in upper Newport Bay, the Ocean Institute in Dana Point, and the historic Casa Romantica in San Clemente.

An event that's worth having it's own Sticky on LL is the Theodore Payne Garden Tour on April 12 and 13. Nichols, are you there?
"Todos vuelven a la tierra en que nacieron" Ruben Blades

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Postby Carlos Araujo » Tue Apr 08, 2008 9:20 pm

Oh also... Another cool Dr. Suess plant according to the California Native Plants for your Garden by Bornstein, et al is the Giant Coreopsis.
"Todos vuelven a la tierra en que nacieron" Ruben Blades

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Oh YEAH, coreopsis is the MOST Seussy

Postby Slim and Gabby » Wed Apr 09, 2008 11:41 am

Pen-gu-ins is pracatically chickinz, and I hates to see chickinz cry so much, I has to put’em outta ther mizzery!

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landascaper

Postby Pas A. Dena » Thu Jul 17, 2008 9:08 am

Josquin,
Absolutely love your front garden! We recently bought a little place in the san rafael hills too! We've got a huge front slope covered in ivy (some of which has gotten fried this summer)
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which we would love to see magically transformed into something like your front garden, comme ça:
Image

We're a little afeared of trying to do it ourselves as we'd hate to have our house slide out into the street...so...
•I Was wondering if you worked with a landscaper, and if so who? and was he...reasonably priced?
•and if not: have you met, in your research, any reasonably-priced-local-plant-specializing landscper types?

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Postby Carlos Araujo » Thu Jul 17, 2008 11:29 am

ProfundusDirectus:

For a native plant consultant I recommend Orchid Black of Pitcher Sage Design, she did my native garden in Glendale which was on the 2007 TPF tour. She's excellent and her rates are resasonable. Your best source for local native plants is Theodore Payne Foundation (TPF) in Sunland off La Tuna Canyon Rd. The best time to plant is November, but you should get ready sooner rather than later.
"Todos vuelven a la tierra en que nacieron" Ruben Blades

Josquin
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Landscaping

Postby Josquin » Fri Jul 18, 2008 9:34 am


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looks like a great plan...

Postby Slim and Gabby » Fri Jul 18, 2008 9:56 am

Pen-gu-ins is pracatically chickinz, and I hates to see chickinz cry so much, I has to put’em outta ther mizzery!

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Postby sdmod » Mon Jul 21, 2008 11:45 am

Slim and Gabby,

I am a grad of Cal Poly SLO and while there took classes from David Fross in California Native Plant Materials. He is the resource when it comes to native gardens......To see Dave and his nursery you do not need to take a field trip even to Santa Barbara…. just maybe go for lunch...he’s about 30 minutes from you


http://www.nativeson.com/

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Postby Joe » Mon Jul 21, 2008 12:56 pm

I like both styles, but good design often comes down to context and scale.

the two homes shown are on different lots and different neighborhoods.


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