ISSUE 10  |  California Cool

New Glamor for Old Hollywood: A Visit to Howard Hughes’ Garden

March 10, 2015 3:45 PM

BY Michelle Slatalla

Molten gold planters are fitting for a garden Howard Hughes once owned, don’t you think? Garden designer Kathleen Ferguson added glamor and just the right amount of glitz to the Old Hollywood hacienda (and created play spaces for her clients’ four children).

Built in 1926 for wealthy Hollywood widow Eva Fudger, the Spanish Colonial estate sprawls over nearly three-quarters of an acre. Its location next door to the Wilshire Country Club attracted avid golfer Hughes, who rented the house for an exorbitant sum–$1,000 a month–before buying it for $115,000 in 1929, on the eve of his 24th birthday and shortly after his wife filed for divorce.

Hughes vacated in 1942. By the time current owners Ash and Niroupa Shah bought the Hancock Park property in 2011 for $6.3 million, the house needed updating–and the garden needed more. “It needed a complete overhaul,” says Ferguson. “We moved hedges from the back area to the front. We put in new lawn. An existing eugenia hedge was planted next to ficus. So we pulled out the ficus and used it in another area.”

Let’s stroll around the grounds:

Photography by Lana Von Haught courtesy of Kathleen Ferguson.


Above: Architect Ronald Coate put the kitchen door (L) on the front facade. On the second-floor balcony are aqua pots with dwarf olive trees.

To reach the main entryway, you pass through wooden gates beneath the house (R) to arrive in a cobblestone courtyard. “We needed something strong and bold to guide people to the front door and down the driveway,” says Ferguson.


Above: A cluster of metallic gold planters sits at the base of the entryway stairs. Tall Euphorbia variegate ‘Ammak’ (handpicked by Ferguson at a local nursery) look like cacti.


Above: Ferguson bought three sizes of Tall Flared Cone Metallic Gold Pots from Asian Ceramics (which sells to the trade only). A retail source is Potted, where owner Annette Gutierrez carries the Asian Ceramics line.


Above: “The homeowner is very fond of gold fixtures,” says Ferguson, who repeated the gold planters throughout the garden to tie the design together. “The pots are an added detail to connect the inside color with the outside of the house.”


Above: The hardscape is new; the homeowners chose to repeat cobblestone throughout the garden. “Pretty much all the landscape had to be redone, but we were able to keep the magnolia tree on the patio,” Ferguson says. The saucer magnolia (Magnolia x Soulangeana) has large pink flowers in early spring.


Above: Many of the succulents in the garden came from The Tropics nursery in West Hollywood.


Above: A closeup view of Echeveria ‘Afterglow’ in bloom.


Above: An Agave sisilana variegata likes well-drained, sandy soil and a hot climate (it thrives in growing zones 9-11).


Above: The clients replaced a kidney-shaped pool with a rectangular one that is easier to cover. On the other side of the eugenia hedge is the country club.


Above: In all, there are 80 planters, most with succulents. “They give another layer to areas where there are patio areas or terraces, to tie everything together,” Ferguson says.


Above: The aqua glazed pots are also available from Potted.


Above: Salvia and citrus trees line the driveway.


Above: Salvia l. ‘Santa Barbara’ is a hardy, drought tolerant plant that thrives in full sun.

For more Hollywood glamor, see: