Four Pasadena Gardens Opened for the Garden Conservancy Open Days – Larchmont Buzz

Formal garden room at one of the private gardens featured on Saturday at the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days in Pasadena

Our celebration of Earth Day continued into the weekend with a visits to four private gardens in Pasadena held open to guests for the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days. All the gardens complement historic homes surrounded by large, mature trees, some with amazing views of the San Gabriel Mountains. The gardens are all tended by committed owners who have adapted their gardens to our changing climate and were happy to share their stories.

Stamps Garden host, Kate Stamps told us that her South Pasadenas garden has changed much over the past 25 years since they moved into their home, a former carriage house dating back to the early 1900’s. Once there was a large lawn, now there are mature oak trees are under planted with shade loving plants creating a meandering woodland walk to the house. Keeping leaf litter on the property and periodic deep soaking of the trees is the key to surviving with almost no rain, explained the Stamps.

Mature oaks welcome visitors to this woodland garden designed by the Stamps over the past 25 years. The brick path is made from recycled bricks from projects the Stamps have done over the years.

Stamps’  husband,  Odem, an architect, designed a charming cottage on the property making a family compound for their grown daughter. Kate and Odem Stamps also have a local familial connection to our neighborhood, founding Hollyhock, an elegant home and design shop on Larchmont in 1988 with Windsor Square resident Suzanne Rheinstein.

The Stamps designed and built this cottage for their daughter.


The Stamps work was also on display at the Quinn Garden located off Linda Vista on the western rim of the Arroyo Seco which the couple redesigned in the 1990s. The house, built in 1929, is a fine example of the Monterey Colonial sub-style of the Spanish Revival that was popular in Southern California during the 1920s. Visitors are greeted by a formal parterre entry garden of orange and kumquat trees with irises and box hedges.

Climbing roses from this wall fountain in the parterre entry garden.

A stone pathway leads from the street to the formal front door which looks out over the Arroyo. A sitting area of decomposed granite was designed for maximum viewing of the San Gabriel Mountains and the Arroyo below. Pathways banked by native plantings lead down by walkways to the Arroyo Seco floor.

A pergola provides shade for this viewing area overlooking the arroyo.

The backyard consists of a patio with potted fruit trees and an expanse of green grass and a pool with an enormous climbing rose on the side of the house.

More roses greet the owners at the driveway including a formal English-style garden planted with roses.

Lagunita Heaven, a garden sculpted out of steep hillside over a period of thirty years by landscape architect and interior designer Heather Lenkin, has 21 separate garden rooms. The garden surrounds an historic Italianate-style 1923 house designed by Webber, Staunton, and Spaulding.

The Lenkins front garden is formal with rose arbors between Italian Cypress trees.

Lenkin’s playful spirit is a delight to discover wandering the garden which includes a forty-foot tented area, fountains, arbors, statuary, lighting, orchid house, and waterfall that combine to create a series of enchanting spaces.  

Moss place settings and a succulent chandelier set the table for guests in the 40 foot tent garden room off the front of the house.


Lagunita Heaven won Garden Design magazine’s 2006 Golden Trowel Award, honoring America’s best gardens. It is also featured in Fine Gardening magazine’s ‘Great Gardens’ (February 2007), Garden Design (January 2006), and Cottage Living (April 2007).

At the top of the hillside is the lavender garden room.




Lenkins filled this area of the garden with roses including one of her own.

The earliest elements of the Evans Garden and house date back to 1897 when the house sat in a rural setting…nestled atop a hill in the midst of many acres and with dramatic views of mountains and valleys in all directions.  Once twenty acres, the site is now just over two acres, still quite large for our urban landscapes. Element of the mature forest of Oaks, Olives, Eucalyptus, Bay, citrus, and the historic gardens, originally designed by Paul Thiene and Florence Yoch are being restored and updated by architect Nord Erikson and EPT Design to meet the needs of modern life and the taste of the current owners who are deeply appreciative of what they have inherited from previous stewards of the property.

The front entry of the house was part of redesign done in the 1920s.


Erikson’s brilliance can be found in organizing the large site and previously formless gardens into an arrival experience with a circulation sequence that allows guest to enjoy the many focal points in the garden and outdoors rooms. Erickson was on site at the garden delighting visitors with details of the restoration and insights into the property’s history including the nearly 1,000 roses in the formal rose garden.

Historic Batchelder tile stairs date back to the 1920s


There are over 1,000 roses in the formal rose garden.

The Open Days is a delightful opportunity to experience private gardens that would otherwise not be able to seen. They are also a great way to get inspirations for your own garden. Gardeners enjoying sharing their ideas and suggestions with visitors as much as they do their gardens!

If you missed the Pasadena Open Days, you can catch the Los Angeles Open Days on Saturday, May 14. Lucky for us, all four gardens are in our neighborhood and we know the gardeners, so we hope we can give you a reminder and a sneak preview before the 14th.

More information on Open Days and the Garden Conservancy can be found here.

No tour is complete without a selfie! Here I am with Liz Gabor, whose family will have two gardens on the Los Angeles Open Days tour on May 14. Garden mirrors, like this one in the Lenkin garden, are traditional garden elements that trick the eye by hiding unwanted elements and expanding the space.


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