Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

STYLE : GARDENS : Prickly Pairings

June 20, 1993|SUSAN HEEGER

No civilized landscape should be without its wild cards--capricious bursts of energy that enhance the pleasures of straight lines and neat beds and remind us of an order greater than our own. Such an interplay of law and nature pervades the Whitley Heights garden of Harvey La Tourette, which was designed by Katherine Spitz of the Santa Monica landscape architecture firm Burton & Spitz. Joining forces with Silver Lake architectural designer John Chase, Spitz spiced up a formal city refuge by inviting in au naturel L.A.

While Chase's vine-wrapped pergola tamed the sun in a brick courtyard, Spitz created a living screen with an army of tough plants: Coral aloes ( Aloe striata ) lift their fleshy spikes in tight formation between a spill of rosemary and a leafy, green Prunus caroliniana hedge. Nearby, guarding the gate, three Euphorbia ingens rise like giants from a Lilliputian mosaic of echeverias and tiny, rare Opuntia humifusa.

Such well-structured plantings fall apart, though, at the patio's rocky edge, where giant octopus agaves ( Agave vilmoriniana ) crawl free of restraining bricks and more agaves ( Agave parryi ' huachucensis ') push through cracks in a rubble wall. Above them all looms a scrap of hill--a remnant of the once-dramatic local slopes that were chopped and carved to make housing lots.

"Why was it still here?" Spitz wonders. "Why didn't they cart it away long ago?" After stripping this found landscape of its demure covering of myrtle, Spitz chose more plants to evoke the spirit of rugged California. Aloes, agaves and succulent ground covers in a palette of gray, green, silver and rust soon fanned out along a path of stones leading uphill to a meditation spot. Here, the gardener who has labored up through the wild flora can relax in peace above the distant towers of the city.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|