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Alfresco from top to bottom

HGTV host Jamie Durie gives his Laurel Canyon backyard plenty of rooms to grow.

May 28, 2011|Debra Prinzing, Special to the Los Angeles Times

A nearby staircase, its steps planted with resilient groundcovers and herbs, ascends the slope to a garden atop the dining room.

Durie thought he would contain the hillside with lantana and rosemary, plants he's used before for erosion control. But he instead relied on Edelstein, the horticulturist and owner of L.A.-based Beth Edelstein Landscape Design, to diversify the plant mix with low-water California natives and Mediterranean plants that add floral and foliage variety and texture.

"We haven't had to fertilize there at all, and we're using only minimal drip irrigation," Durie said.

Once you've climbed to the top of the dining structure, a small deck with a pair of midcentury Walter Lamb reproduction brass-and-cording chairs encourage lounging. The perch overlooks the garden and reveals Durie's grand scheme.

Photos: HGTV star's own L.A. backyard retreat

For a man who has a new book out from Harper Design ("Jamie Durie's The Outdoor Room"), his landscape architecture practice Patio, a furniture line of the same name, not to mention the television series, Durie said he's able to find a remarkable amount of peace in what had been a pretty unremarkable property when he arrived in L.A.

"Life just seems a whole lot more hectic in Sydney," Durie said. "You can't say that about Laurel Canyon. All I ever hear are birds. I've got squirrels running along the top of my green wall. An owl moved in once I finished the garden, and we're starting to be visited by a ton of hummingbirds. I may not have kangaroos and koalas, but it's kind of fun telling my mates back home that I've got coyotes in the canyon."

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