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Style : GARDENS : Rustic Refuge

September 15, 1991|ROBERT SMAUS

From Taxco to Tombstone to Torrance, pergolas offer an idyllic escape from the hot summer sun. They are open to every breeze and, because they don't have roofs, they are light and airy. Pergolas were a Spanish idea that settlers brought to the American West via Mexico. Of Spanish pergolas, American gardener Helen Fox wrote in 1929: "The simplest consist of a few rough beams supported by rustic posts." Just as simple is this modern version in the Rolling Hills garden of landscape designer Julie Heinsheimer, who works with Torrance architect Edward Carson Beall. Situated atop a hill, Heinsheimer's pergola is made of 10-foot-tall cedar split-rail posts, with smaller posts overhead. Concord and Black Monukka grapevines help provide shade. All around are lavender, yarrow, coreopsis, watsonia, Jerusalem sage and other dry-climate plants. And eucalyptus chips recycled from tree pruning keep down weeds as well as discourage snakes (they don't like to crawl over the chips). Says Heinsheimer of her pergola: "I've sat under so many delightful pergolas in so many hot countries, it seemed only natural here."

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