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Shade garden is a surprise behind the privacy wall.

Shade garden is a surprise behind the privacy wall An unexpected shade garden greets visitors to this house in Calabasas, California. Hidden behind a windowless wall with a pair of 8-foot-tall paneled doors, the garden provides a cool transition to the house's front door.

Designed by Los Angeles architect Harold Levitt, the generous courtyard--32 feet long and up to 16 feet wide--stretches across the front of the house. Its solid exterior wall provides both visual privacy and an acoustical barrier from street noise. Combined with overhead protection, the wall also shelters shade-loving plants from afternoon sun and strong winds that blow in from the ocean.

The roof slopes from the peak of the house to the outside wall. In the section above the courtyard, evenly spaced 5-inch-diameter logs leave the garden open to the sky. Reminiscent of the latillas in many Southwestern buildings, the peeled spruce logs continue farther into the house, running up under a large sky window extending to the ridge.

Augmenting the Southwestern look, 20-inch-square terra-cotta pavers give the courtyard a warm, earth-toned floor; plants in pots line the edges. At the end of the garden near the front door, a 7-by 10-foot bed holds an Australian tree fern, impatiens, and clivia. Growing in a smaller bed at the other end, a tall, multi-stemmed flaxleaf paperbark tree (Melaleuca linariifolia) shades the garden's open side, blocks views of a neighboring house, and encloses the open end.
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:May 1, 1991
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