When Jane Abascal and her husband Manny moved into their home on a quiet, tree-lined street in Altadena, California, they noticed the garden across the street had a lovely, welcoming feel they wanted for their new space. After a reasonable amount of time, Jane approached her neighbor to ask if she would share the name of their landscape architect. Lucky for Jane, she was speaking with exactly that landscape architect, Sally Farnum of the eponymous SE Farnum Associates. Who could ask for more than a designer in the neighborhood? Sally and Jane hit it off as neighbors while their professional relationship flourished. As it happened, Sally had worked with the previous homeowners to renovate the back of their property, but the front was due for a serious update and overhaul.
Jane had some specific wishes and Sally, no shrinking violet, had some strong ideas as well. At first, Jane wanted to keep the lovely lawn that the previous homeowners had so carefully tended.
Sally’s plan called for moving an existing, water impermeable asphalt driveway and removing the lawn. When she discussed this idea with Jane and described a courtyard plan using gravel, decomposed granite with brick accents, Jane was intrigued. Sally envisioned an allee of white crepe myrtles lining a long, narrow, shallow fountain, creating perspective. When the plans were finalized, they agreed that Sally’s vision would be excellent for water conservation, would accent the “French” feel of the Abascal home and would have a completely new look.
Ms. Farnum designed a low plastered wall and wrought iron gate to enclose the courtyard and the fountain constructed with poured concrete walls and a bluestone cap. French Anduze Vases at the gate on the courtyard side and a mature olive tree from Eye of the Day planted on the street side of the wall along with sage, lavender, and other Mediterranean plants create a water-efficient design that is a great fit with the French look of Jane and Manny’s home.
“Jane was a great client,” Farnum says, “she was open to new ideas while having plenty of her own. We worked so well together to achieve what has become one of my favorite projects and I’m so happy to have been able to design a beautiful garden setting–without a lawn!–for my neighbors.”