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California seen from Provence: part two

by Louisa Jones
photographs by Louisa Jones

For the full article see The Mediterranean Garden No 45, July 2006.

Author Louisa Jones, who has lived in the south of France for 30 years, spent several weeks in October 2005 visiting gardens throughout coastal California. In the second part of her article she continues to discuss the design and planting of Californian gardens in contrast to the gardens of Europe and in particular Provence.

"Asymmetrical formality admirably suits modern architecture of the kind often described as minimalist. The most beautiful example I saw, Isabelle Greene's famous Pulitzer garden in Santa Barbara, was made with green and grey blocks and lines, full of succulents, very architectural. But, as she herself said, quite static."

"Nancy Goslee Power's garden for the Norton Simon Museum (also in Los Angeles) also uses asymmetrical forms. This, however, is one example that goes far beyond the garden as Outdoor Room. Here the building is merely a point of departure, carefully screened by trees, even repainted for greater discretion. It soon gets left behind in a space which has its own coherence, full of mysterious byways and delightful discoveries..."

"Nancy Power's own place in Santa Monica is an even more original bursting of the limits between house and garden in such a way that the latter takes over entirely. There is an exuberant, imaginative back-and-forth flow of colour, shape and volume."

" one of my favourite gardens in Palos Verdes, the southern tip of Los Angeles, created by the owner Marion Scharffenberger with the help of gardener-plantsman Ric Dykzeul. There we saw hundreds of colourful varieties thriving on a vast hillside..."

"The Disney auditorium gardens in Los Angeles, designed by Melinda Taylor around a Frank Gehry building, group flowering trees in curving islands around pleasant walks. Floral colour is reflected in the shiny surfaces of the building."
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