7th Annual Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase

The 7th Annual Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase will be Saturday, April 25, 2015. This Earth Day celebration, presented by the Mar Vista Community Council, seeks to empower Angelenos to adopt environmentally conscious living solutions. With many people walking or biking their tours, there is a tremendous sense of community as garden enthusiasts from throughout Southern California join our neighbors to celebrate our shared vision for a greener life

Click here to see a map of the areas we'll feature in the 2015 Showcase. We're looking for potential garden clusters now. Eligible gardens should have one or more of the following sustainability features: California native/drought tolerant plantings, edibles or water catchment systems. This is a curated show. The deadline for garden submittal is February 1, 2015.

Do you have gardens to recommend or questions about eligibility? Would you like to be on the Green Garden Showcase email list? Contact us at gardens@marvista.org. 

Did you miss the 2014 tour, or some of the gardens on it? Click here to display a Green Garden Showcase map, then follow the directions to create your own personal tour map. PLEASE BE RESPECTFUL OF GARDEN OWNERS’ PROPERTY. View gardens from the sidewalk unless invited in. Don’t pick anything!

The Mar Vista community has an ongoing commitment to encouraging sustainability in all aspects of life. The Green Tent at the Mar Vista Farmers' Market hosts a different eco-presenter each Sunday. Every 2nd Sunday, a Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase committee member is also there. Every 4th Sunday, UCCE Master Gardeners visit The Green Tent with seeds, seedlings and advice. 

3749 Redwood Avenue - Cluster 5

Click here for audio description of this garden.

This garden was installed in 2009 following a major remodel of the garage. The small garage was replaced with a 4 car dream garage with office/family room above. Check out the view from the balcony, you can see the Getty and quiet surrounding Mar Vista neighborhood. 

All the existing mature trees on the property were kept and protected during the construction. The front yard has a Trumpet tree (Tabebuia) which should be in full flower for the tour. The four mature Australian Paperbark (Melulaca’s) provided the impetus for the other plants in the garden to be primarily of Australian origin. A few native California species with the same low water requirement were added for color and habitat for our native birds and insects.

The swing bench is the perfect place to meet the neighbors on a hot afternoon. The old front garden had a small patch of turf which was removed and the area was re-contoured and elevated into a berm to improve drainage for some of the Protea’s and other plants wanting fast drainage. Check out the flower on the Australian vine on the arbor in front, it’s an usual Black Kennedia or Black Coral Pea (Kennedia nigracans). Some of the unusual Australian plants in the garden were specimens from the Australia Native Plant nursery in Ventura/Ojai.

The garden is only 2 doors away from a Mark Twain Middle school so there is lots of traffic in the area in the morning and afternoon on school days. Once the plants mature on the berm it will provide some separation and a sense of privacy from the sidewalk traffic. The recycled broken concrete pavers and stacked concrete used in the outer front patio area and garden wall came from the old garage floor. The open joints between the pavers have a combination of dymondia, thyme and herniaria ground covers, drip tubing is below ground to provide irrigations water until these plantings are mature. 

The parkway has two mature Gold Medallion Trees (Cassia leptophylla). The turf was removed and Dymondia and small New Zealand Flax were use. Stepping stones were placed for folks to have access to their parked cars. 

The front south side has an edible section. This is the best full sun spot on the property. Two espaliered apple trees (low chill varieties; Anna and Fuji) stand at the house, with two Blue Berry bushes, and raised beds for salad veggies are planned in the remaining inches of space. 

The back garden’s raised wood deck was protected during construction and repaired and painted at the end of construction to match the new color scheme of the garage and house. The mature Birch trees where kept, but these trees need more water that the other plants that were planned for the garden so a fountain was installed at their feet providing a little extra slash for the trees to drink. 

The homeowner’s collection of orchids will be out on display during the tour.  The greenhouse was built by the homeowner to fit tightly under a mature Australian Tea Tree (Leptospermum petersonii) and over the sump pump area for the property to house the orchid collection.

The Bouquet Canyon stone patio and planter incorporates a built in gas fire pit with a small seating area. The open joints in the patio’s construction allow rain water to be infiltration into the soil reducing the runoff into the street. The back garden plants are a combination of plant from California, European and Australian origin.  

The garden is watered with the latest smart irrigation technologies (ET Water Irrigation Controller) and all subsurface drip irrigation. No herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers are used in the ongoing maintenance of this garden. The soil fertility is being improved with the use of mulch, compost, worm casting and compost teas.

The garden was designed by Marilee Kuhlmann of Comfort Zones Garden Design and installed by Clark and White Landscapes. The landscape masonry was done by Macon Inc. A plant list for the garden will be available at the tour. 

1904 Walgrove Avenue - Cluster 5

Click here for audio description of this garden.

These homeowners adore their garden. They inspired to create it because they wanted to be more energy savvy and water conservative. 

They had talked about taking up the grass and flowers and creating a succulent garden. Then they had a plumbing problem: a burst pipe that originated from the street to the front door. All things happen for reason.It was time to make the leap. 

They had the grand fortune of knowing a Master Gardener who lived up the street. They admired her garden. They conceived their project in late April of 2012 and completed it early August of 2012. They loved being a part of the planning and planting of the garden. They had the opportunity to participate in the design, selection of plants.

Not knowing much about succulents, they were able to articulate their vision to Julie Strnad. One owner says, "I love my garden! It offers me peace. My garden speaks volumes to who I am; colorful, decisive, focused and approachable. I love the color red and needed to see it spotted throughout the garden."

It was very important to balance the front yard garden with the backyard garden with one exception: there would be no fence or brick walls. However they wanted to plant something around the front border of the yard that would eventually have the semblance of a wall. They knew they wanted a focal point. It ended up being the large bolder on the south side. 

They now note many bees and wasps buzzing around and pollenating blooms from the cacti and succulents. Butterflies enjoy time in the garden as well. The crows (they think they are crows) visit the yard much less now. 

The garden is easily maintained. It's on a timed sprinkler system, watered two times a week for 2 minutes each watering.

Master Gardener, Julie Strnad will be on hand to assist in answering questions as needed. 

3766 Redwood Avenue - Cluster 5

Click here for audio description of this garden.

This DIY landscape is a mix of cacti, succulents, yucca and other low-water plants like Alstroemeria, Pride of Madera, and Mexican Marigold. They kept a few species - climbing roses, day lilies - that are less drought friendly, but are family favorites. Two cassia trees provide shade for the yard and house.

In 2012, Emily Green wrote in her “Chance of Rain” blog, “This garden is what Beatrix Potter would have drawn, had she lived in LA. It’s charming, doable expression of loving the outside, except not at the inordinate expense of the environment.  It’s low-water and, from the look of it, nearly no run-off.  But mainly it’s personal, low cost and crazy colorful in a palette that runs circles around glossy standards of beauty.”

This garden is part of the amazing cluster of gardens on Redwood! This cluster has everything - landscape designers, chickens and certified Ocean Friendly Gardens!

3247 Granville Avenue - Cluster 3

These homeowners wanted to convert the property from water guzzling, high maintenance turf - boring monoculture - to a combination of plants that would save water and maintenance hours and provide visual beauty while serving the habitat needs of the local fauna of  birds, bees and butterflies.

Click here for audio description of this garden.

When they bought their house, the front garden was a sea of grass struggling to remain green and 8 shrubs sheared into muffin balls - really unimaginative and un-California.  They met Susanne Jett who created a gorgeous native garden that has gotten more beautiful in the nine years since she planted it. They were so happy with it that, after remodeling in 2010, they had her return to do the backyard. Now their entire landscape is environmentally friendly and they couldn’t be happier with how it looks.  They asked her to plant with butterflies and hummingbirds in mind. They enjoy visits from both.

The garden refurbish of 2010 now includes a rainwater catchment element (infiltration pit) in the front yard and rain chains on all of the gutters throughout the property. The infiltration pit collects roof rainwater runoff from the front half of the house. During a normal rain season, thousands of gallons of rainwater are diverted from the street gutter into the ground water table of the site. All walking and driving surfaces on the property are designed to reduce water runoff to the street.

The front garden is a combination of plantings and permeable walking areas from the original landscape installation of 2004 and the post-remodel refurbish plantings of 2010. The back garden was completely re-landscaped as part of the 2010 remodel. The entire landscape is a combination of Mediterranean plants and many California natives. The homeowners also enjoy food from the edible garden bed and the fruit trees. With the exception of the edible plants and trees, all plants in both gardens are low to medium water need. Most of the plants provide some type of habitat support in fruit or seed and attract beneficial insects to provide integrated pest management in the garden without chemicals.

All planting areas on the property are serviced by low-volume, drip irrigation. The delivery of irrigation ranges from every day for the leafy edibles to once a week or every other week for the low water need plants. Transitioning from a turf dominated landscape to one of low and low medium water use plants and efficient low-volume drip irrigation can reduce landscape water use by 65% to 85%.

Landscaper Susanne Jett as well as Mimeos Solar will be at the garden to answer your questions.

3767 Redwood Avenue - Cluster 5

Click here for audio description of this garden.

Featured on Chance of Rain and in the LA Times, this drought resistant garden combines California friendly plants with raised beds of vegetables and herbs. 

The angled walkway in front adds a feeling of depth as plants soften the front entrance and create a meadow woodland feel to give an overall feeling of serenity.

The trees add so much! The Forest Pansy Red Bud is a beauty in all seasons. The Yellow Tabebuia is a spring treat with its mass of clear yellow blooms. In the front, the row of Ginkgo's in the parkway are gorgeous and cast iron plants for our climate and city living. The showy red barked Arbutus marina in the back yard is a butterfly and hummingbird magnet. This is a wonderful example of how much you can add to a garden with trees! 

The water features always draw in birds and the finches seem to love the Abutilons in the garden.

The homeowner, a landscaper (Wild Gardens), designed the garden.

The garden was designed by the homeowner (the company is Wild Gardens).

3783 Redwood Ave - Cluster 5

Click here for audio description of this garden.

This garden is a must visit to learn about Ocean Friendly Gardens!

This front garden is largely California native or drought resistant plants with two small square-foot vegetable gardens, flanked by a handful of potted strawberries and herbs. The native plants have brought an amazing difference in wild life! The yard attracts a wide array of birds and pollinators.

The homeowners hired help to remove the grass and lay the stepping stones that run along the driveway, and then did all the plant selection, garden layout, and planting on their own. The main path is recycled driveway from a neighbor. They completed the process with NWF to make the garden certified Wildlife Habitat, and installed a rain barrel in the front yard. 

Next steps include an additional rain barrel in the back yard and cutting into the driveway to stop flow to the street to retain as much water on the property as possible. The plants are hand watered as needed. The edibles get more frequent watering and the rest of the yard maybe once or twice a month. There is also a compost bin in the back yard.

This homeowner works full time for the Surfrider Foundation, a non-profit that works on issues such as ocean water quality. Surfrider Foundation launched a program in Los Angeles County called Ocean Friendly Gardens in 2009. The purpose of the program is to give your yard “CPR” (Conservation, Permeability, and Retention) to reduce our individual contribution to urban runoff, the #1 cause of ocean pollution in Los Angeles. Find out more from Surfrider representatives at the garden. 

12444 Matteson Avenue - Cluster 6

Click here for audio description of this garden.

Credit for this garden goes to Bryan Richards of Real Natives, who shaped the owners' vaguely articulated interest in native plants, drought tolerance, movement, seasonality and color into the present landscape. Bryan's design incorporates citrus (Meyer lemon, satsuma and kumquat), Japanese maples, an apricot tree, Mexican sage, aloe, and pittosporum, as well as decorative elements including boulders and a minimalist wood and wire fence. 

To provide continuity with the previous appearance of the yard, they maintained the Christmas evergreen, which has thrived in its present state for over fifteen years. 

The principal goals were both aesthetic and pragmatic; they now water far less frequently than previously and have minimal maintenance in terms of weeding and trimming. They especially appreciate having replaced the grass on their parkways with dymondia, which has proven both hardy and barefoot-friendly. Dymondia also covers the interstices in their mini front patio.

Landscaper Bryan Richards will be at the garden to answer your questions.

3764 Stewart Avenue - Cluster 4

Click here for audio description of this garden.

This contemporary garden and architectural house illustrates just how beautiful sustainability can be. Look especially for the innovative use of gravel surrounding a boulder that's just the right size for sitting and positioned with a view of a graceful large olive tree that both emphasizes and screens the height of the house. Permeability continues in the driveway and path to the front door.

It's partly the judicious repetition of a few plants that make this garden so successful. The house is further screened with a lacy Pittosporum tenuifolium hedge. Look for more pittosporum around the gravel area, but this one is the smaller, mounding Kohuhu, or "golf ball" pittosporum. There's also red flax, a few protea, and low grasses that repeat in both the front yard and parkway. Speaking of the parkway - you can't miss the beautiful pink flowering trees.

3783 Stewart Ave - Cluster 4

Click here for audio description of this garden.

The centerpiece of this small front garden is a beautiful acacia tree, planted on a raised mound to give it extra prominence. The garden also features flax and grasses throughout and well-established dymondia in the parkway.
The garden owner and landscaper have made good use of rocks and boulders for both practical and decorative use; in some cases they informally divide sections of the garden, but mostly they are just nice to look at!
Note the permeable pathway and stepping stones, and the inviting bench on the front porch.

12432 Mitchell Avenue - Cluster 6

Peridot Gardens is inspired by the owner's Great Aunt, Elizabeth O'Neil Verner, a renowned lithograph artist from Charleston, South Carolina. The owner is named after her.

This gem of a garden started with the purchase of the book, "The Private Gardens of Charleston." In reading the recommended readings in the back of the book, the owner learned of the accomplished landscape architect Loutrell Briggs, and was excited to learn that he considered Elizabeth O'Neil Verner as one of the Renaissance artists of the time and was influenced by her beautiful prints of the architecture of Charleston. He wrote about her own private garden as shady, crooked and small, characteristics that created difficulty because all her plants were gifts.

The owner began compiling information for a dream garden and before long had amassed a large green binder to hand to landscape designer Eric Gomez of Valle de Verde Garden Design. He transformed the garden to a cross of California living with a Charleston influence of formality and tradition. The Botanicals of Charleston discovered by 18th Century botanists and sent back to the King of England became very important to the landscape of Charleston…and just happen to be plantings seen in California gardens:  magnolia trees, gardenias, roses, boxwood topiaries, and the South Carolina State Plant, the Palmetto Palm. 

As a birthday gift, the owner invested in a Master Plan that is still a labor of love today. Phase I in the front yard is almost complete and the back yard begins construction soon. 

A fence of espaliered Apple trees is the favorite planting, already bearing many apples. The owner smells an apple pie in her vintage oven! 

The house is painted a very bright Granny Smith Apple green that is fresh and alive. Behind the apple fence, there's a meadow of wild grasses with succulents, a bedding of Strawberry Fragaria, and large topiary boxwood globes. Eric did a beautiful job of respecting the California landscape blended with the influence of the traditional Charleston Landscape. 

A brick carport with a compass of inlaid bricks and a beautiful hand crafted fence with large finials sets off the garden and provides a focal point, accomplishing a grander vision than ever imagined.