Modernist Gardens in Southern California

Several years ago, Brian Tichenor and Raun Thorp of Tichenor and Thorp, Architects, purchased the one story house and through his aunt’s association with the Dean McHenry family, they were able to acquire the original house plans. The husband and wife team has used the house and garden as a laboratory for exploring ideas about landscape and architecture. The site, Approximately one third of an acre, in West Los Angeles, is divided into three levels; the street level at which the garage and original entry to the house is located; the main level, at which the house is located; and the pool level, which is up a set of stairs flanked on either side by potted succulents and cacti.
Harwell Hamilton Harris’s original cruciform plan created four distinct outdoor courts, in addition to the upper pool garden. Dramatically, every room opens onto a garden patio or water feature. The living room and kitchen share a patio with an outdoor fireplace. The courtyard off the kitchen functions as a children’s play area. On one side of the master bedroom a garden court connects to the studio / guesthouse and on the other, a Japanese garden with a water lily pond. Plant material used in the Japanese garden includes: Acer palmatum atropurpureum, “bloodgood”(Japanese Maple), Anigozanthos “Big Red”, Nandinadoestica “Nana”, Abutilon Vesuvius, Linrope, and Berberis thunbergiii “Royal burgundy.” The new entry court is comprised of Mexican river-washed pebbles with rectangular stepping stones that pass through an undulating hedge of Westringea rosmariniformis , Dondonea and Eriobotrya “Coppertone.” The largest space is devoted to the swimming pool with it’s own cabana / teahouse which is bordered by a lily pond with an urn- fountain. Mature trees and hedges of Westringia rosmariniformis , Bronze banana, Anigozanthos flavidus, Dondonea viscosa “Purpurea”, Phormium tenax, Trachelium caerleum, and water lilies surround the pool area.