In my last post, a whole mess of paving was transformed into one of the world’s sexiest parking lots. (Click here if you missed it: Hidden Valley Part 1 – The World’s Sexiest Parking Lot). Join us now for a peek inside the new garden gates to see how the sloping site was reconfigured to provide outdoor rooms, a greatly reduced lawn, an orchard and a sculpture garden.
Beyond the antique gates, a gently meandering flagstone walk leads to the front porch, past a new fountain embellished with pebbles, coral, shells and water plants. A large, curving fieldstone bench backed by huge (pre-existing) elephantine yuccas and topped with cushions in a range of joyful colors and patterns sits at the edge of a graveled opening. (The bench was designed to convert the sloping yard into flat, usable space. It retains five vertical feet of fill along its sweeping 18’ length.)
Overhead is a large (pre-existing) acacia which now supports a massive stag horn fern, hanging plants and a chandelier. Upholstered wrought iron side chairs, green soapstone end tables, a slab of slate for a coffee table on an ivy-covered base, large glazed pots and a faux bois dining table complete the couple’s favorite new sitting area.
Off to one side is an antique chair and ottoman on a small patio (a remnant of the old front walk truncated by the recent parking lot project). A faux bois console table sits against the back side of the motor court wall. Huge glazed pots (one with a 36″ box olive in it!) and a “living umbrella” (an old umbrella frame with poultry wire where the cloth once was, smothered in evergreen Boston ivy, shading the persimmon-colored lounge set) provide shade over the quiet lounging spot.
The flagstone path carries the visitor to the front door, beneath a vine-draped pergola which is furnished with the owners’ beautiful old chinoiserie cupboard, pots, sculpted-looking Japanese maples and fantastic statuary. The timbers and ceiling of the pergola were faux finished to echo the colors and scenes on the chinoiserie cupboard.
The portal (pronounced “por-tall”—that’s a porch to us non-Texans) on the back side of the house was tricked out with beautiful furnishings, fabrics and pots. Ditto for the three patios around the guest house and the office plus the patio under the portal. A large area of lawn was removed where a few odd fruit trees had haphazardly landed. More fruit trees, heavy organic mulch and a low edging of star jasmine were added to create a large orchard and sculpture garden, complete with one of the iconic Chicago cow sculptures and a moss-and-plant chair and table.
Once the moss table and chair were in, the space begged for a bed to complete the picture… So naturally we added a moss-and-plant bed with living bed skirt, patterned coverlet and pillows (all made from moss, potting soil and – what else? – ‘bedding’ plants, of course!). Lifelong collectors, the owners will add more sculpture pieces with future finds.
Finally, a long, narrow, uninviting sloped lawn was reshaped and broken up with two flights of sandstone steps across its entire width and is now an extremely elegant space – suitable for a wedding or a pageant of some kind. And that parking lot that once dominated the landscape? Not only has it been transformed from ugly duckling to swan, it is now just one of many beautiful spaces in a striking and thoroughly functional landscape—the owners’ pride and joy!
Sneak peak into our next blog post…
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