Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

New Water-Wise Garden Fits English Tudor’s Roots

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Windsor Village resident Holly Holyk decided she wanted to transform the green grass of her front yard into something more sustainable in the drought, but knew she needed help from a seasoned landscaper to make it feel right for her 1920s-era historic English Revival/Tudor home. She turned to Judy Horton, a seasoned garden designer and former Windsor Square resident who knows the terrain well. Together they created a beautiful new water-wise garden that is still in keeping with the home’s architecture and surrounding neighborhood on South Victoria Ave.

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“When you look up and down her street it looks very green and traditional,” Horton told the Larchmont Buzz in a phone interview. “We wanted to keep it green but be water smart about it, and be horticulturally and architecturally appropriate. We ruled out using only mediterranean-climate plants with their matte mostly olive green to gray foliage yard as her home is English. And we wanted to keep some of the existing elements, like her lovely rosebushes and a boxwood hedge.”

Horton designed a horizontally-aligned lush garden that features a small section of the beloved rosebushes that Holly loves for cutting flowers. The rose garden is bordered by a rectangular path of decomposed granite that is permeable to rainwater, allows Holly to deadhead and care for the roses, and as she says “gives my sons and the dog a nice circuit to chase around.”

Her sons weren’t too keen on losing the grass at first, but have found a way to make the new yard work for their German Shepherd’s playtime. According to Horton, she designed ‘horizontal bands’ that step from curb up to the house. The first is the parkway, planted with Sonoma Coast yarrow (achillea), yarrow being one of the few DWP approved rebate plantings for the parkway. It can be mowed fairly short and trampled on, but also left long to produce abundant white flowers in the spring and summer for some showiness.

The second banding, which hugs the slight rise from the sidewalk, is planted in creeping rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis Santa Barbara Blue)  Lockwood de Forest, an evergreen low-lying shrub that will bloom blue in the early spring and provide aromatic notes to the yard and nectar for bees. The third band is planted with myrtle (Myrtus communis ‘Compacta’) that will be clipped into the shape of round balls, lending a formal English look to the garden.

The myrtle in foreground will be clipped into rounded ball shapes, reminiscent of a formal English garden.
The myrtle in foreground will be clipped into rounded ball shapes, reminiscent of a formal English garden.

Hugging the home is a wider swath of garden that celebrates some old and some new. Gone is a birch tree, replaced with a white Crape Myrtle that needs much less water. The former curved boxwood hedge has been deconstructed to eventually become updated, distinctly-groomed sections. The garden along the house includes many new plantings including Indian white blooming Hawthorne (Rhaphiolepis indica ‘Clara’) , an anemone hybrid “Honorine Jobert”, Bergenia crassifolia, a helleborus hybrid “Ivory Prince”, Nada irises and of course, a variegated holly bush that commemorates the gardener’s own name.

“I think the new yard maintains the spirit of the house and the neighborhood,” Holly told the Buzz. “Judy assuaged my guilt about keeping the roses because since I was  redoing the irrigation, there could be a small zone for moderate water plants, while the rest are low water.  And if the drought became apocalyptic, it would only be a small area to change.”

Right plant, right place, right look, right water. This front yard makeover seems to do it all right.

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The holly, backed by irises.
The holly, backed by irises.
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White anemones were planted – they will spread into a groundcover and work well in shade.

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Julie Grist
Julie Grist
Julie co-founded the Larchmont Buzz with fellow buzzer Mary Hawley in 2011 and served as Editor, Publisher and writer for the hive for many years until the sale of the Buzz in August 2015. She is still circling the hive as an occasional writer.

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