written by:
March 25, 2011

This week the plan was to transform the back garden into a lush California native garden inspired in part by Maui, where we just returned from vacation. However, it has been raining almost every day since we returned, making it impossible to work outside. Finally today there was a break in the rain and so this week’s blog covers our ideas for the back garden. Our goal was to source the materials locally and plant everything in one day. Of course, we would love to walk outside and find the same natural world that we discovered in almost every corner in Maui, where each tree and plant seemed to be a perfect specimen. However, we're in drought-prone Los Angeles, and a large cedar and another tree dominate the back yard, making the space underneath shady most of the time. So we looked to the forests to find solutions.

 

In this exclusive series for Dwell.com, Linda Taalman of Taalman Koch Architecture tracks the hands-on renovation of her and her partner's live-work space in Hollywood, California. Week 9: Tackling the garden.

Rocks are definitely an element we are planning to bring to the space, large and small...
Rocks are definitely an element we are planning to bring to the space, large and small...
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…along with fern-like plants that keep the space open and give us a dense green environment.
…along with fern-like plants that keep the space open and give us a dense green environment.
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Two large sculptural lava rocks in the form of a table and chair would be great in the open area in our yard currently half-filled with the black rocks Ellwood often used as a hardscape border element.
Two large sculptural lava rocks in the form of a table and chair would be great in the open area in our yard currently half-filled with the black rocks Ellwood often used as a hardscape border element.
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A large tree trunk bench—shown here raised off the ground with two stone slabs from the Presidio in San Francisco—would be perfect on a concrete slab.
A large tree trunk bench—shown here raised off the ground with two stone slabs from the Presidio in San Francisco—would be perfect on a concrete slab.
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For native plants I returned to the <a href="http://www.theodorepayne.org/">Theodore Payne Foundation</a> in Sun Valley, CA. The nursery is continuing the legacy of Theodore Payne, who in 1903 started a nursery and seed business specializing in native wil
For native plants I returned to the Theodore Payne Foundation in Sun Valley, CA. The nursery is continuing the legacy of Theodore Payne, who in 1903 started a nursery and seed business specializing in native wildflowers, making native California plants available to the public.
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Visiting the Theodore Payne nursery is also a tour through a fantastic native plants garden, with 22 acres showcasing over 300 plants. This coming Saturday (March 26th) they will have their annual Poppy Day Spring Plant sale, offering a 10% discount to no
Visiting the Theodore Payne nursery is also a tour through a fantastic native plants garden, with 22 acres showcasing over 300 plants. This coming Saturday (March 26th) they will have their annual Poppy Day Spring Plant sale, offering a 10% discount to non-members and 15% discount to members.
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Every species is identified with a card that tells you what conditions the plant prefers, its cycles, what animals are attracted to it and what soil conditions and climate are best. I've been testing numerous shade plants to find a good solution for the s
Every species is identified with a card that tells you what conditions the plant prefers, its cycles, what animals are attracted to it and what soil conditions and climate are best. I've been testing numerous shade plants to find a good solution for the shadiest part of the garden, and this Meadow Rue (Thalictrum fendleri) matches perfectly for our conditions of full shade with sandy shallow soils around the trees (a difficult combination).
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I collected my plants in a rubber wheeled cart provided by the nursery, so you can pull it around as you study the plants.
I collected my plants in a rubber wheeled cart provided by the nursery, so you can pull it around as you study the plants.
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And then I did my best to carefully squeeze all 25 plants into my Prius, which required using every space except the driver’s seat.
And then I did my best to carefully squeeze all 25 plants into my Prius, which required using every space except the driver’s seat.
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After dropping off the plants at our apartment in Hollywood I swung over to Sunset Nursery down the street to pick up a few bags of cedar mulch and organic topsoil for leveling out the low spots in the garden.
After dropping off the plants at our apartment in Hollywood I swung over to Sunset Nursery down the street to pick up a few bags of cedar mulch and organic topsoil for leveling out the low spots in the garden.
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Here's the experimental shade garden winner, Meadow Rue, passing the test of no sun and no watering on my part (luckily lots of rain).  I have been waiting for months for this plant to come back to Theodore Payne. Luckily you can check their website to se
Here's the experimental shade garden winner, Meadow Rue, passing the test of no sun and no watering on my part (luckily lots of rain). I have been waiting for months for this plant to come back to Theodore Payne. Luckily you can check their website to see all the plants they have in stock—I bought 12 of the 52 they had listed for this week. A close runner-up on the right, Evergreen Currant (Ribes Viburnifollum), will also be featured in the garden.
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A brief moment of sun. For the partly sunny zone of the garden I will plant a group of larger bushy Currants, Ortega Beauty Chaparral (Ribes Malvaceum), that have reddish pink flowers that attract hummingbirds in the winter. They grow to be six feet tall
A brief moment of sun. For the partly sunny zone of the garden I will plant a group of larger bushy Currants, Ortega Beauty Chaparral (Ribes Malvaceum), that have reddish pink flowers that attract hummingbirds in the winter. They grow to be six feet tall and wide, which will help to transform the white background of the fence into a dense green space.
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I'm looking forward to enjoying the garden when it stops raining in these perfectly scaled outdoor steel framed woven chairs from Africa in bright green, from my good friend Carla Denker’s shop <a href="http://www.plasticashop.com/">Plastica</a> on 3rd St
I'm looking forward to enjoying the garden when it stops raining in these perfectly scaled outdoor steel framed woven chairs from Africa in bright green, from my good friend Carla Denker’s shop Plastica on 3rd Street.
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A peek at the newly planted garden. Freshly mulched cedar looks great under the cedar. Tonight it is pouring rain again, hopefully giving the plants a chance to take root.<br /><br /><p><em><strong>Click <a href="http://www.dwell.com/people/linda-taalman.
A peek at the newly planted garden. Freshly mulched cedar looks great under the cedar. Tonight it is pouring rain again, hopefully giving the plants a chance to take root.

Click here to read past installments of our Hollywood Renovation series.

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Rocks are definitely an element we are planning to bring to the space, large and small...
Rocks are definitely an element we are planning to bring to the space, large and small...

Click here to read past installments of our Hollywood Renovation series.

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