By Laura Monteros
The reception and presentation was held at the original Altadena home of David Macpherson, builder of the Mt. Lowe Railway, now owned by Mary Lea and Bill Carroll. The house on Topeka Street makes it into Altadena by sliver of 10 feet at the back of the yard.
First up was Pat Rand, whose home is at the corner of Poppyfields and Thurin. Rand has lived in Altadena about 10 years. He said that about six years ago, his partner became fascinated with drought tolerant and native plants, and ripped out the grass to renew the yard. Rand’s partner passed away recently, and Rand maintains the yard in his memory.
Vivian Powers accepted the award for Herme Britton, who transformed the corner in front of her house on Glenrose Ave. at Terrace St. Unable to talk the county into putting in a sidewalk on the dusty corner, Britton told them she would do it herself, but it had to be done her way. Rather than put in a perpendicular sideway, she constructed a winding path through her property.
Homeowners James and Chantal Giddens demolished and rebuilt half their house at Midlothian and Midwick Drives, gutted the yard except for three olive trees, and planted the yard with drought tolerant materials.
Charles Hay, who with partner James Harvey transformed the yard at 1838 Vistillas Rd., said that their yard is “dinky teeny tiny.” He created several garden rooms, “but they are dinky teeny tiny, more like closets,” he said. Hay and Harvey have had gardens throughout the country—Georgia, Washington State, San Francisco—and in Edinburgh as well. In Altadena, Hay chose a variety of plants, with a profusion of dahlias. They even planted thistles as a remembrance of their years in Scotland. His advice? Use the Farmers’ Almanac moon charts for planting and weeding.
JPL engineer Jan Martin, who was not present to accept the award, created what Goldschmidt referred to as a “Mondrianesque” landscape at 2320 Oliveras Ave. “It’s the first yard I saw with all the lawn taken out,” landscaper Goldschmidt said. Martin came up with the concept of using roof runoff to provide all the watering needs for his yard. It took a year to navigate the various county departments to get approval for the project.
MacPherson house owner Mary Lea Carroll gave a brief history of the house. The Victorian Transitional house was likely built in 1895 or 1896, she said, and was David Macpherson’s first home in Altadena. The house usually identified as his home sits at Atchison and Mar Vista and was actually his second home. When the Carrolls purchased the house in 1992, the back yard was completely blacktopped, so they called on Goldschmidt to landscape it. Several movies have used the home as a location.
More pictures after the jump.
1. Pat Rand with Altadena Heritage chair Mark Goldschmidt.
2. Vivian Powers, accepting the award for winner Herme Britton
3. Chantal and James Giddens.
4. James Harvey and Charles Hay.
5. Another view of the yard of the McPherson house
6. Goldschmidt and Mary Lea Carroll talk about the McPherson house and its history.
7. A little music al fresco made a festive event.