Open Days, house
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Garden tour preview: A sumptuous landscape in Altadena

Open Days, house
By Debra Prinzing

The Garden Conservancy’s Open Days tours are scheduled for April 26 in Altadena and May 9 in Los Angeles. One of six gardens on the Altadena tour belongs to Cheryl Bode and Robin Colman, who bought their property 10 years ago. Their mission: to save an aging 1925 Spanish Colonial Revival and tame its landscape and, in the process, return the property to a look that reflected its historical roots. For help with their three-quarters of an acre, Bode and Colman turned to Altadena landscape designer Thomas Batcheller Cox and contractor Tim Foster of Chaparral Landscaping. For the results of their collaboration, read on.

Take a virtual garden tour of some of the best gardens featured in the Los Angeles Times. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Open Days, pond
One of the most stunning features of the garden is a restored pond landscaped with ferns, hellebores, mondo grass and a trio of golden ginkgos, planted to commemorate Bode’s late mother. The colors of spring appear in the blood-red foliage of Japanese maples overhead and in the salmon-pink flowering azaleas at one’s feet, lining the path. Dappled sunlight animates the scene, and it’s hard to imagine any place more peaceful.

Take a virtual garden tour of some of the best gardens featured in the Los Angeles Times. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Open Days, maple
The renovations preserved as many old trees as possible, including several deodar cedars and sycamores. Here, a Japanese maple.

Take a virtual garden tour of some of the best gardens featured in the Los Angeles Times. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Open Days, pond path
Pure peace at a pond’s edge. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Open Days, Bode
“We wanted it to look as if everything belonged here and was built by craftspeople from the 1920s,” says Cheryl Bode, pictured here.

Take a virtual garden tour of some of the best gardens featured in the Los Angeles Times. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Open Days bench
Seating nooks, dining areas and other quiet places of contemplation are placed across the landscape.

Take a virtual garden tour of some of the best gardens featured in the Los Angeles Times. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Open days, rose gate
A walled rose garden stands in an area once covered in asphalt. A gate built from turned spindles (echoing the home’s original window trim) provides entry. Sand-colored Santa Rosa gravel crunches underfoot as you walk along the path, a small fountain bubbles at its center, and 32 rose shrubs perfume the air. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Open Days, rose
“I only grow roses that have fragrance,” Bode says. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Open days, chair
Another spot where visitors may sit and soak in the surroundings.

Take a virtual garden tour of some of the best gardens featured in the Los Angeles Times. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Open Days, clivia path
Paths layered with flowers and foliage create a lost-in-time feel. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Open Days, clivia
The clivia garden.

Take a virtual garden tour of some of the best gardens featured in the Los Angeles Times. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Open Days, grevillea
Grevillea rosmarinifolia in bloom. For Bode, who retired in 2004 from a career in healthcare administration, the move has transformed her into a plant lover. She scours local nurseries for just the right flowering azaleas and rose cultivars. She rattles off botanical names as if she were a horticulturist and tends tomatoes, strawberries and beans in the sunny kitchen garden. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Open Days, statue
“I don’t even really want to take vacations anymore, because it’s so beautiful here,” says Colman, an EBay vice president who commutes to Silicon Valley each week. “I come back on the weekends, and I love just being home.”

Colman and Bode’s garden will be among six open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday as part of the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days. Maps and tickets ($5 per garden, $25 for all six) will be available 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday at Nuccio’s Nurseries, 3555 Chaney Trail, Altadena; (626) 794-3383; www.nucciosnurseries.com(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Open Days, house 2
After 10 years of improvements, Colman and Bode love their Altadena landscape. “We had no idea what we were taking on,” Colman says. “We love it now, but we didn’t come in with our eyes wide open.”

On May 9, the Garden Conservancy’s second Open Days event in the region will feature six L.A. gardens not previously featured by the organization. Highlights include gardens created by landscape architects Joseph Marek and Robert Steiner, garden designers Laura Morton and Sean Femrite, and an urban mini-Jurassic Park inspired by the nearby La Brea Tar Pits. On tour day, maps and tickets will be available 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Pacific Design Center plaza, 8687 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood; (310) 360-6409. Garden Conservancy information: (888) 842-2442.

Take a virtual garden tour of some of the best gardens featured in the Los Angeles Times. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
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