As part of its ongoing mission to preserve and enhance the beauty of our community, the Toluca Lake Garden Club hosted about 50 members of the Junior League of Pasadena Garden Club for a guided tour of five neighborhood homes and gardens on May 8. The excursion, which also included a lunch at Lakeside Golf Club and a presentation about local history, was an opportunity to build relationships with a like-minded nearby organization while promoting the scenery and culture of Toluca Lake — not to mention a fun chance for TLGC members to admire one another’s houses and yards, says president Dana Boyd. Here’s a peek at some of the featured properties.
EVER SO ENGLISH
A love of English gardens and a desire to conserve water inspired Bob and Darlene Carter to make over the front yard of their 1933 home, which was built for Bing Crosby and later owned by Al Jolson and Ruby Keeler.
“This was all lawn when we moved into this house six years ago, and our water bill was $4,000 a month,” Darlene says. After visiting England and admiring the gardens there, “we got rid of all the grass and asked, ‘What do we want to do?’ And we both went, ‘Let’s do an English garden!’”
“We tore out the front parkway and we did the Xs,” she says, referring to the design along a brick wall and on the 300 feet of parkway, where Kurapia is planted.
They transformed the yard into 11 garden areas, many of them squared off by boxwoods, which along with fountains and topiaries are de rigueur in English gardens. “Someone tried to talk me out of doing boxwoods, because when one dies they all look horrible. But I didn’t care,” she says. She and Bob scouted out “topiaries in all shapes and sizes” at Best Plants Direct in Pasadena. “We went there a couple of times and decided what we wanted and how we wanted to do it,” she continues. Their yard now includes foxglove, jasmine, camellias and an espalier of five varieties of apples (Fuji, Gala, Braeburn, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious and Gravenstein), all adding up to a tour-worthy garden.
A LEAFY RETREAT
Built in 1934 by famed architect Paul Revere Williams, the Prady family’s Toluca Lake Avenue home has a long tradition of notable residents, among them actor and director Lloyd Bacon, Lear Jet founder Bill Lear, Lockheed founder Carl B. Squier, “singing cowboy” Tex Ritter and actors Jennie Garth and Peter Facinelli. In addition to the house’s history, beauty and privacy, the plus for plant lover Kirith Prady is the level lot with plenty of room for gardening.
After moving in six years ago, Prady planted masses of climbing jasmine framing the back side of the house and a variety of fruit trees, including citrus, avocado, apple and her favorite, a “fruit salad tree” that grows five different types of stone fruit, which she brought with her from her previous home in Encino. There’s also an olive tree grown from the tiny sapling brought home from the first Earth Day Celebration she attended after moving to Toluca Lake, and a small vegetable garden that includes artichokes, sugar snap peas and cherry tomatoes. “I can eat off my land,” she says proudly.
Prady is the newest member of the Garden Club, having joined about a year ago. “Not only do I love gardening, but I also really wanted to meet my neighbors,” she explains, adding that, along with having a dog to walk around the neighborhood, the club has been one of the best ways she’s found to make new friends.