|Moroccan Carpet Mosaic|
Because of the heavy clay soil that was not amended, many of the plants in the original design failed to flourish or died. The extensive lawns became patchy, and a large pine tree keeled over leaving a gaping hole. So I was asked to return and redo several areas in the garden. We purchased and retrofitted a lovely Indonesian Tea House Pavilion to cover the pile of chips that was the stump of the pine tree. I built a Moroccan styled gas fire pit, and removed areas of sad lawn, replacing them with gravel, mosaic stepping stones, and lots of matching brown glazed Vietnamese and Thai ceramic pots filled with succulents and bromeliads.
|Tea House and Brugmansia in bloom|
|Trampoline and lawn|
|Removing the Trampoline|
|Key Hole Doorway|
Ben Youssef Medersa
The largest part of the project was building a set of pebble mosaic steps down in to the sunken garden. It was like making a tiered cake, vertically stacking the pebbles in rows, letting them set up overnight, and adding another layer. While I was working on this project a writer from the New York Times came to interview me for an article. She sat and watched me sort pebbles for hours on end, which I bought in bags from a local supplier, in black and gold colors. She eventually titled the article 'Every Stone a Perfect Fit'.
|Sitting on the competed steps|
We stuccoed the block walls and added wiring for lighting and a fountain. The base of the hole had a thick layer of crushed gravel for drainage that we top coated with a round gravel called Del Rio Mix that has a nice warm color.
Around the perimeter I planted Tasmanian Tree ferns on the shady side, and Cycads on the sunny side, with repeated clumps of Variegated Dianella and Foxtail Asparagus Fern, which had proven to tolerate the soil conditions and dry to soggy irregularities of irrigation, along with times of shade or broiling sun.
|New Plantings and Pots around the Sunken Garden|
The following Spring I returned and primed and painted the wall to match the house, and added to the plantings. Several pots went in to the garden to feature a variety of Aloes and succulents. I use them to add height to the beds and use drought tolerant specimens that wont tolerate the heavy clay soils.
This Spring I returned again to do the finishing touches. I added a small wall fountain with a simple arc of water spilling in to a stone bowl that overflows in to a buried 20 gallon garbage can with a barbeque grille placed on top, covered in pebbles, very low tech. The sound of the water is very enticing and masks the ambient roar of L.A. traffic. A decorative painter friend did a stencil border derived from a Moroccan tile pattern around the top of the wall, in colors to match the pebble mosaics, with metallic gold highlights. We bought a Moroccan tile table and iron chairs and added some low carved wooden chairs with cushions to make the space comfortable to inhabit. The results are quite sumptuous.
|Table and Chairs in the finished Sunken Garden|
|Fountain and stone bowl|
Because the garden is sunken, it stays cooler than other parts of the garden and makes a good retreat on hot days. And what was really an eyesore is now perhaps the loveliest part of the garden, the perfect place to have a cup of tea or meditate, or hide away from the World. Lovely.
|The Sunken Garden, April 2011|