He designs landscapes too

Architect William Krisel says he frequently fields calls from owners of the 1950s homes he designed. They ask for advice on everything -- the choice of paint color, the selection of siding. "They want to keep it pure to the original spirit," Krisel says, "and I'm happy to help if I can."

Also among the requests: help with landscape design. Krisel created the garden, below, for Palm Springs homeowner Chris Menrad, who decided in 2006 to re-landscape his front yard. Menrad had hired an expert to come up with a plan, which he then sent to Krisel for an opinion.

"He asked if I liked it," Krisel recalled. "I said, 'I didn't.' "

Krisel wound up designing the garden himself. The result is a kind of abstract artwork: Rectangles of crushed brick and gray gravel are interspersed with big circles of grass. The planters are actually restaurant woks set on plain metal pipe, through which Krisel ran irrigation and wiring. "They're rigged to water themselves and light up at night," Krisel says with a chuckle. "What more could you ask?"

-- Bettijane Levine

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