Amy and David Messinger's home in the Hollywood Hills posed vexing problems common to many properties in California. The steep front and rear slopes were difficult to navigate, much less landscape. The one side yard that was flat had been reduced to a muddy mess by sprinklers and poor drainage. For help, the Messingers hired landscape designer Joan Grabel of Park Slope Design in Studio City. On the front slope, she layered strong colors and architectural shapes, each plant selected and positioned so its texture or growth habit stood out. Now orange-flowering aloe and violet-blue lavender near the curb give way to chartreuse euphorbia and big yellow-green Agave attenuata, also known as foxtail agave. Higher still is a type of spiky bronze phormium called Guardsman, and aeoniums are silhouetted against the wall. "I treated the slope like bleachers in a class picture, where you get to see everybody," Grabel said. "I used some plants that were the same height but not on the same plane."
Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times
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