Clever Retro Details Freshen a California Garden by Jeffrey Gordon Smith

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With expansive views of California’s Cerro San Luis and the Edna Valley at their doorstep, the owners of this property wanted an indoor/outdoor living style. That’s when they called in Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Design for some inspiration: a “retro” update to their garden to harmonize with the present architectural styles of the home and the owner’s love for “early modern.” As the designer confirms, “Retro 50s circular shapes are designed throughout the landscape” — starting with new round concrete steps at the entry, leading to the circular threshold. The circle theme continues in half and three-quarter circles for other doors, culminating in a corner where new glass sliding doors were installed — permitting the desired indoor/outdoor blend. On both patios, circular glass-lined planted voids are uplit to become “beacons” at night.

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Against the precast concrete wall with spherical blue glass inlays are plantings selected for hardiness and to be complementary. Some of what the designers brought in include Salvia “Mexican Lime Light”; Canna “Tropicana” lilies; a Yucca with the appealing moniker “Bright Edge,” as well as papyrus and kniphofia. Finally, via circular concrete stepping stones, you reach the back patio space, where a water feature is shaped to mimic the slope and shape of Cerro San Luis Mountain. The house’s present color scheme — olive with orange eaves — made the final selection obvious: an orange Plexiglas section in the water feature that “pops” during the day and is lit up by night. Colorful accessories have enabled this backyard to be both whimsical and welcoming, a great example of how the “old” can be “new again.”

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Written by Janet Butler

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Janet W. Butler is a freelance writer, editor, and editorial consultant by day and a “small soprano” by night. An RWA Golden Heart Winner, she is the author of the inspirational romance From the Ashes (“the best little book no one’s ever heard of”), published by SANDS Publishing in 2001; and a romantic suspense, Voice of Innocence, from Desert Breeze Publishing. She is a Chicago native transplanted to northeast Indiana, where she lives with her husband, daughter, and Cassandra “Trouble” Butler, S.R.C. (Spoiled Rotten Cat).