Hollywood’s version of the 1920s managed to be both giddy (the talkies are coming!) and gratified, because how else could you feel about life in a palm-tree paradise? Nowhere was the contrast more apparent than in Hancock Park, built as an architecturally fanciful experiment where Tudor turrets sit next door to Connecticut clapboard. Developed as a city neighborhood in central Los Angeles, Hancock Park’s Craftsman cottages and Moorish manses managed to exude an exquisite suburban leafiness.
Fast forward a few decades. When writer Whitney Friedlander and True Blood producer Alex Woo bought a 1920s house in Hancock Park a few years ago, the boxy stucco facade had simple lines, some Art Deco details–and a very fussy garden.
Soon after, LA-based landscape designer Naomi Sanders arrived to find an ornate backyard fountain that was hemmed in by roses, and a grid of formal parterres with “a million different plants.” Her challenge: to streamline without starting from scratch, to make the garden feel both elegant and warm.
Sanders had a two-part plan. She designed new hardscape elements (including a concrete front path) and reduced the plant palette to three colors (green, white, and red). “I was really interested in looking at the work of Mark Rothko for inspiration, for that limited use of color for effect,” Sanders said.
The Before and After photos tell the story:
Photography by Jennifer Roper, except where noted.
Before (Front Courtyard)
After (Front Courtyard)
Above: Echeveria succulents in the planters have a tinge of purplish red.
N.B.: This is an update; the post was originally published on December 29, 2014.
To see more of Naomi Sanders’ work, see LA Confidential: A Private Courtyard Goes Luxe on a Budget.
For more LA gardens, see:
- Pretty in Pink: An Artist’s Dry Garden in LA’s Topanga Canyon
- City Sidewalks: A Garden Visit with Ron Finley in South Los Angeles
- Garden Visit: Spanish Colonial-Style Made Modern in LA