Written by Rebecca Christian
Photographs by Mark Lohman
Nestled in a California canyon, a jewel-like garden sparkles with latticework and roses.
Pink Arbor Roses
Text: When the grande dame of the neighborhood proclaimed Marina Kriegsman’s Pacific Palisades, California, home “the jewel of the canyon,” Marina was delighted. Flowers are to her what jewelry is to other women. Her beloved grandmother’s name was Rose, and Marina’s home and garden are full of large and fragrant old-fashioned roses. For the house she bought with husband Steven in 1997, she wanted the look of the Leave It to Beaver homes she grew up admiring on television, white picket fences and all. Nostalgic flowers and romantic structures turn the grounds of the 1940s-era ranch house into her dream garden.
Marina turned to Janet Lohman, the garden and interior designer who first worked with her to make magic on the inside of the home, for the daunting task of transforming the grounds. When the Kriegsmans moved in, Marina says, “The house had a strangely configured lot with a big triangular piece stuck on the side. It didn’t look like it belonged.” That area is now occupied by the garden’s highlight—a much-admired white latticework folly that she and Lohman joyfully researched and collaborated on.
Behind the home, a gloomy garden had random plantings. It’s now an emerald lawn with arbors and a lovely pool. In front, there were some shrubs and a few camellias. “Marina is a romantic who is attracted to things that emote that pretty cottagey feeling,” garden designer Lohman notes. “She loves saturated pinks, purples, and blues. We chose delphiniums and foxgloves for impact, even though they have a short blooming season. The rest of the time we use flowers like statice and agapanthus to keep the romantic feeling alive.”
Lohman, an architect’s daughter with a gift for space planning, used tall flowers along a narrow path to play up the feeling of being surrounded by blooms. Periwinkle blue shutters and lavender-and-white striped pots lend a look that Marina describes as “a little bit Alice in Wonderland.”
While the front has an English cottage ambience, a path winds along to the side and back of the house with a more European feel. Here a strong slope, towering sycamores, hedges with fairy-tale height (10 feet), and a border of woods create secluded enchantment. Inspired by a book on the secret gardens of Paris, Marina and Lohman added structure with boxwood cones and globes and with pergolas crowned with roses. Bricks border bluestone pavers. Views of the garden from inside the house enhance indoor--outdoor flow. Marina can look down on pergolas shaded by majestic trees.
Lohman describes the folly, much admired by strolling neighbors, as “an ode to architectural influences and travel memories.” It came about, Marina laughs, “because I bought this gorgeous bench and needed a place to put it.” She dreams that sons Cary, 20, and Jay, 24 will say their wedding vows there one day.
The Kriegsmans are avid swimmers—Marina was a competitive swimmer at UCLA—so the pool has to work hard as well as look inviting. To get enough length to swim laps, it starts below the back balcony, its equipment hidden beneath bluestone paving at the bottom of the garden. Marina loves swimming early in the morning, looking up at the moon and stars. The pool area is where her mother reads when she visits. It’s also where Steven, CEO of a biotech company, works and relaxes in a faceted garden with sparkle to spare, living up to its reputation as the jewel of the canyon.
Interior and garden designer: Janet Lohman, Janet Lohman Design, 10559 Rocca Place, Los Angeles, CA 90077; 310/471-3955, janetlohman.com.