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Arts and Entertainment

Take A Peek Inside Some Of L.A.'s Coolest Private Gardens

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Every year, Angelenos are treated to a peek inside some of the city's coolest private gardens when the Garden Conservancy teams with select homeowners to throw open their gates for the Conservancy's annual Open Day.

As told on The Garden Conservancy's website, the non-profit had its beginnings in the late '80s, when Frank and Anne Cabot toured a three-acre garden in a private residence in Walnut Creek. At first, they were mesmerized by the collection of rare succulents and cacti. And then they were troubled to learn that the owner of the residence had no plans to preserve the lush and verdant space beyond her lifetime.

This would lead the Cabots to start The Garden Conservancy, which has worked to restore and preserve more than 80 gardens in North America. Why the effort? As the conservancy says, these gardens are "living works of art" and "embody both the creative force of human artistry and the powerful beauty of nature."

Some of these gardens are in the Los Angeles area, and on Sunday the Conservancy hosted an "Open Day" in which horticulture enthusiasts (and others) were allowed into the gorgeous and fragrant gardens that sat on private properties. Among the residences was the Casa Nancina, which belongs to landscape designer and author Nancy Goslee Power. You've seen Power's work if you've visited the Norton Simon Museum: she left her imprint on the museum's Sculpture Garden. As noted at the L.A. Times, "[Power] is to landscaping what her longtime collaborator Frank Gehry is to architecture: She hasn't so much broken the old mold as cast a new one." And the late California historian Kevin Starr said that she is "one of half a dozen leaders in her field nationwide." Which is all to say that it's no surprise that Casa Nancina has a large bounty of botanical wonders, as well as architectural stylings that reflect the tranquility of the garden.

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The seven other stops on the L.A. tour included three Tom Rau-designed gardens at the Savage Moyer Residence, the Rau Griffiths Residence, and the Patejak Residence, which sit on the same block in Mar Vista. There was also the Fielding Garden, the 20 Fifth Street Urban Yard, Merrihew's Sunset Gardens, and the Santa Monica Water Efficient Garden, which features a combination of California, South African, and Australian plants that don't need a whole lot of water to survive.

As you can see in the pictures above, the plants weren't the only features that were worth our attention. Rain barrels and bioswales (which re-route runoff so that the water will soak the ground, rather than running off into the sewer system and into the ocean) attest to the gardeners' commitment to sustainability, and make us reflect on our own relationship with the surrounding ecosystem.