A bold building can demand a lot from a garden: Gutsy plants, paths and walls must fall in step with the architecture but also speak for themselves. For garden designer Nancy Goslee Power, that was the case with this unusual Westside residence by San Francisco architect Mark Mack, who created an inner courtyard between a street-facing studio and the wedge-shaped house.
Power echoed Mack's geometry with a wedge-shaped perennial bed heaped with spiked, strapped and spilling plants. To go with his dining terrace and outdoor spa, she added a children's lawn and a hand-colored, concrete-block path that links living and gardening spaces. Her palette of red, purple, orange, pink and blue not only blooms well against the terra-cotta-colored house but also makes for interesting plant combinations: red-hot poker beneath blue hibiscus, Pride of Madeira beside sea lavender ( Limonium perezii ), silver artemisia ('Powis Castle') against the rich greens of agapanthus and Liriope gigantea. Alongside and overhead, dripping from a green arbor, a heated mix of bougainvilleas--'California Gold,' 'Orange King' and 'California Sunset'--lights up the walk from gate to house.
In this courtyard, house and garden come together in what Power calls "the Roman way." The garden surges around the house; the house embraces the outdoors. As Power puts it: "They become one thing--just what we need for life in L.A."