Saturday, May 30, 2009

Green Grows the City

We moved into our present home in December of 2007. Built in 1935, it's a style called Monterey Revival (50% Monterey Colonial/50% Colonial Revival), especially popular here in Los Angeles in the 1930's. 

I loved it on sight. It was a demure little house, full of airy rooms and a bearing a confidence that belied its bijou size. It was in perfect condition and full of original details and I instantly felt it was the sort of place a family such as mine should live in.

We embarked on a flurry of projects, the first of which was to add a brick wall surrounding the front of the house to create a private garden, where I could grow flowering privet, a teeny field of lavender and have a little green patch to call my own.
(March 2008)

Work moved fast. Two months later, the wall was up, the lampposts and wooden gate had been installed, the exterior was freshly painted and we had commenced work on the interior. At the time of this photo, landscaping had yet to be planted and the poor little house looks slightly embarrassed to be so exposed. Even now, I can hardly look at it without averting my eyes from its gleaming white nakedosity.
(May 2008)

What a difference a year makes. It's still a work in progress, but the ivy is flourishing, the privet hedge is straining to be seen and the climbing roses are making a run for the balcony. It's becoming clothed in a delightful, disorderly charm.
(May 2009)

Here's the laissez-faire glamour I'm going for, as evidenced by a past visit to Charleston House. 
(Charleston House, Lewes, East Sussex, England, 2007)

I still want to add some more flowering vines to the left side of the house (it's north-facing - any suggestions?) and continue wrapping my roses in a circle around the guest room window, and I must confess that knowing nothing about gardening or horticulture doesn't deter me in the slightest. I'll learn as I go. My gardening hero, Beverley Nichols, said it best:

The greatest service of the amateur in the art of gardening - or, indeed in any of the arts - is that he does things wrong, either from courage, obstinacy or sheer stupidity. He breaks rules right and left, planting things in the wrong soil at the wrong time of the year in the wrong aspect. And usually, we must admit, the result is disastrous. But not always.

Isn't that wonderful?

22 comments:

Glenda said...

Well done you. Your home seems like a wonderful place to relax and have privacy.

I do think your achieving your goal.


Ciao

Laura [What I Like] said...

What a lovely post. I was raised by two very talented and avid gardeners, but I must confess that not much of it has rubbed off on me. The only vines that are coming to mind are bougainvella and wisteria, which seem to be a dime a dozen in southern california!

janeh said...

Your house looks wonderful! Shady simply begs for clematis - although I have had surprising luck with honeysuckle- very vigorous and smells heavenly - it seem to attract those really big, black bumble bess but they are not too aggressive.

Tavarua said...

Magic - touch -...A very beautiful house indeed - fantastic work...Love it...

meg said...

How about climbing hydrangea? You'll have to check its suitability as I live in chicago but tend to assume that whatever grows here will grow even better there..it is a very romantic plant.

http://www.springmeadownursery.com/article_1.htm

kate salenfriend said...

thank you for this post! I admired your inner courtyard as I have a courtyard coming in from my house and am inspired by what you've done.
Questions, if I may?
what do you have along the sides of the house, between you and your neighbors? more stone wall?
Also, did it take a lot of courage to put up the wall in the front? I live in a neighborhood where all fronts/lawns are to the sidewalk and a wall might be seen as a very aggressive move here, but I love how yours works so well.
an unrelated question: in your house, the wallpaper that is the vines in the entry, what is that? I have seen it in mags, but can't seem to find it right now!
thank you so much!

tartanscot said...

Oh my, its charm is progressing in leaps and bounds!

congratulations on your success thus far - and good wishes as you continue. I know it's going to be wonderful.

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Janeh and Meg: Thank you for the clematis, honeysuckle and climbing hydrangea recommendations -- all great ideas. I will investigate them all and let you know...!

Kate: The brick wall does extend to the sides of the house. On one side, it offers a passage to our detached garage. Many houses in our neighborhood are shrouded from view by a combination of greenery and/or walls, although we were the first homeowners on our side of the street to put up a barrier from the sidewalk. But I love my neighbors and, as I explained to them, I wanted my son to be able to play in the front garden if he wanted without me panicking that his ball was going to run into the street, followed by him(!) and also, I wanted to be able to sit in my living room and be secluded from the occasionally intrusive stares of people walking their dogs -- especially if I was in my pajamas! The privet hedge is still growing, but I am planning to prune it to a uniform length once it fills in.

The wallpaper is Cole and Son's "Flowering Quince".

Tartanscot: Thank you for the lovely sentiment! You know how much I admire you and your blog and your style and...well, everything!

Susan's Snippets said...

Lisa....I love what you have done..taking a home with great bones and making it look SPECTACULAR!!

As far as your gardening quote....

it i could have wrote

Jen West Design said...

Love it. Paint and vines do wonders, don't they? I did the same with my house...

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Bravo. Really nice job on your version of Charleston! I have ivy covering my own cottage, but what I'd really like is Virginia Creeper. We love to travel to the UK in the autumn and it is always glowing red and amazing on every country house we see. I adore it, but I'm not sure it could survive the humidity here in a Southern summer. Ah well, one can dream.

Flo said...

Wow, you have really transformed the outside of your house! I have always thought the pictures of your interior very beautiful so it was lovely to see the outside. Charleston is a great palce to have as your inspiration

mary said...

And you said you had a black thumb !! It is already looking like an established garden and not a So Cal hardware store explosion. Don't forget the wisteria.....it is a challengs but the wild woody branches give an old world look quickly. Good luck

VP birdinator said...

What a fantastic Southern California Charleston. Are you worried about the climbing plants damaging your walls? Are you training them with wires? I have always also loved those random plantings that sprout from brick walls and roofs and between slates in England. I think it is accidental, but the Brits let them grow. Here I think people might denude everything, sadly, for "neatness".

pve design said...

I'll be sure and add that laissez-faire touch to the final illustration of maison de bloomsbury!

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

VP Birdinator: I'm actually not worried about the ivy on the brick. Maybe I should be, but I plan to keep it somewhat under control and so far, it doesn't look like it's damaging anything.

And I adore those "random plantings" that you so often find growing hither and thither on English homes. Those little touches of disorder are exactly the look I'm going for!

PVE: Ooooh, I can hardly wait! xx

Claire said...

The quote sums me up completely! I rarely look at the planting instructions and tend to go with the 'what the hell, let's give it a go" approach. It sometimes works out well.

A Super Dilettante said...

It's a beautiful house. It reminds me of colonial architecture and design. I absolutely adore your white verandah. No wonder why you fell in love at first sight. If I were you, I would just keep it as it is (that's only a personal view). It looks great! I heard that the vines can be so hard to maintain. All these old houses like Charleston has got vines and red virginia creepers and someone told me that the roots of these plants go into the bricks and it's not good for conserving the building. But if you are thinking of a story by O' Henry's "The Last Leaf", I can understand why you want to have vine or honeysuckle outside your window..for artistic and poetic liscence!

Style Court said...

Such a dream house. You really have achieved the feeling you wanted. I love it!

JMW said...

Lovely, simply lovely.

Kelly said...

It's beautiful, but I'm afraid you're going to have to leave: that's my dream home you're living in.

Love it.

home before dark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

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