Wrightwood Estates Hillside Garden

Wrightwood Estates Hillside Garden

Studio City, CA

The present garden dates from 2007, when it was remodeled by Landscape Designer Jamie Schwentker as part of a major renovation to the Mid-century Modern house, which included the addition of a second story and a new garage.

This is essentially a hillside garden, with the largest portion of the property being a hill that rises up steeply behind the house. This tall slope and the orientation of the house itself create fairly shady conditions for most of the garden areas. There were already many mature trees and shrubs on the property, some of which were rather unusual species, and the designer felt that as many of these as possible should be preserved and integrated into the new design.

The Owners confirmed that they had bought the house from a plant loving “hands on” gardener. Among these mature tree and shrub specimens are a pair of majestic Canary Island Date Palms, a giant Eucalyptus citriodora (lemon-scented gumtree), a Blue Atlas Cedar tree, Callistemon citrinus (Red Bottlebrush tree), some Canary Island Pines and old Camellia japonica shrubs. There is also a large specimen variegated English Holly tree in the Rear Garden as well as a nearby Trevesia palmata, with its large tropical leaves. Another huge tropical plant in the rear garden is a Split-leaf Philodendron that clambers over an existing retaining wall at the foot of the rear slope. An enormously tall Agathus robusta (Queensland Kauri), which is very seldom seen in residential gardens, stands at the very west end of the property along with a couple of mature Aleppo Pine trees.

The Garden Designer thus came to understand this property as a kind of botanical garden boasting a variety of somewhat rare specimen plants, and the theme of the new planting palette would be eclecticism, featuring “unusual” plants that would complement the existing specimens and help create a garden tapestry of foliage textures, shapes, and colors.

The original Front Garden had been mostly lawn, all of which was removed to create an Entry Garden comprised of swaths of various plantings (among them Kangaroo Paw, Red-leafed Azaleas, Fox-tail Agave, Sago Palms, Mexican Weeping Bamboo) through which one walks to reach the front door of the house.
A Cactus and Succulent Garden was created on the far (west) side of the Driveway, which can best be viewed from the sidewalk in the cul-de-sac of the street. A boomerang-shaped lawn was created in the level area just behind the house as an entertainment space and a play area for the Owners’ dogs. Shade tolerant flowering plants surround the lawn. 

The rear slope above the lawn was already densely planted with an assortment of drought tolerant plantings including agaves, aloes, and a large Heteromeles arbutifolia (the native Toyon tree), but mass planting of other flowering shrubs and perennials were inserted into the mix to create a more picturesque design since this steep slope is such a predominant feature of the Rear Garden from both inside and outside the house.

A new Kitchen Garden was established at the far west end of the Rear Garden-beyond the Barbecue area and the stone-paved dining terrace, with its outdoor fireplace, off of the kitchen. Through the years, however, the various fruit trees in this area began to shade out the lower growing vegetables and herbs. Thus, today this area remains only an orchard.

A new raised planter for vegetables and herbs was then constructed at the east end of the Rear Garden, adjacent to the Eucalyptus tree because this spot remained the sunniest in the garden. Alterations such as this one are inevitable in all gardens, and this garden has definitely changed and evolved over time.

A very capable and experienced gardening crew fortunately continues to maintain the Wrightwood Estates Hillside Garden and alter it as various needs arise. Plant varieties have gotten switched out over time. The rear lawn was changed to artificial turf several years ago, when conditions became too shady to support real turf grass, and also facilitated the reduction of water usage in the garden, making it more sustainable.
In recent years, the construction of some landscape tie retaining walls on the rear slope have provided easier human and canine access onto the rear slope as well as level places to sit, rest, and enjoy the beauty.

This garden’s estimated size is approximately 12,000 sq. ft., of which about 3,800 sq. ft. is level land.

Open Days 2024:  Sunday, April 28
Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

  • New 2f41bc3dbc0fde770515d2030fc6561cd80051035879a6f5ef41cbb2a9d59670New garden or feature
  • Partial wheelchair access
  • Nature friendly f372a65207813459a0d18d2caa5c1eece145dbb205535bacd45d09e443889605Nature-friendly

Wrightwood Estates Hillside Garden
Studio City, Los Angeles County, CA, 91604
Exact addresses and host-provided directions appear on e-tickets after purchase.

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