Seasonal garden design works for Malibu family

Malibu Garden Column

By Peggy Harris / Special to the Malibu Times

The spring and summer display of the burgundy “razzleberri” shrub (Chinese fringe flower) blooming profusely on the gray split rail fence in the Anfanger’s Malibu front yard looks like a plant that is thriving in the right spot. The Japanese maples and birches in the front yard are deciduous choices and will lose their leaves each fall and produce a new display each spring. The seasonal nature of this garden is part of its appeal to Lynn and John Anfanger, both of whom are originally from the East Coast. The Japanese maples, the birches, the lawn, the gray split-rail fence and the gray rounded rock terracing on the north side were all the product of a design process involving homeowner, landscape contractor and designer. The resulting front yard, though less than large by Malibu standards, now provides immensely satisfying seasonal returns.

In 2000, landscape contractor Larry Croy cleared the entire front yard and then called me to create a design for the “blank canvas.” I first met John and Lynn Anfanger at the property and they showed me the Japanese maples and multitrunked birches John had carefully selected for the front yard. Incorporation of burgundy and gray foliage to complement the house was agreed upon as a color scheme. The Marathon green lawn would provide a peaceful center spread and help keep the design lines uncomplicated.

As much as John loves the maples, Lynn had a passion for English roses. Among her favorites is “Westminster Cathedral,” a pale pink fragrant variety. Along the border by the house, Artemisia and lavender and gray-leafed society garlic are planted between the roses. The Coral Bells (Heuchera “Purple palace,”) add contrasting deep burgundy colors in the bed.

The Abutilon or Chinese lantern plant hybrid “Crimson Bell,” with deep red blossoms, was the choice for the area around the front door. Though it is a host to white fly, continual surveillance and removal of infested leaves has helped curtail the insect. The complementary grey foliage of achillea (yarrow), using hybrid varieties with copper-colored blooms (not the yellow bloom) at the front entrance fits in with the plan.

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Along the split-rail fence line, the successful Loropetalum chinense (razzleberri) is a Monrovia introduction, which grows well as a small shrub or espalier. Its fuchsia dangling flowers add a festive touch to the deep red juvenile foliage. Its mature foliage is green but the mass of burgundy foliage predominates. Gray clumping grass (Festuca glauca) and the maroon “Jack Spratt” (phormium tenax) are planted together. Gray-leafed society garlic (Tulbaghia simmleri) is also planted along the fence line.

For the tiered area at the north end, gray rounded river rock was carefully installed. For gray foliage and a plant that hangs over a wall, the Helichrysum petiolare (licorice plant) was chosen. After a few years, this becomes thick and requires inside pruning for the best effect. Also on the tiered section, Mexican sage, Buddleia and Russian sage were used. The next addition to this area will be the deep maroon foliage deciduous shrub-the Euphorbia cotinifolia, “Atropurpurea.”

From the beginning, John and Lynn insisted on organic gardening. Sunflower Landscaping tended the yard for the first few years and, in the past several years, John and Lynn have taken over the care themselves. While it does take time and effort, it is possible for these homeowners to care for their own yard and have it flourish. Often a smaller, well-tended yard can become a largely successful garden.

Peggy Harris of PM Design is taking an indefinite leave of absence. This will be her last column until she returns.

13StarsManager
https://malibutimes.com
The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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