Casual Symmetry

With its mesas and valleys, La Mesa as a rule is a tough locale for a formal garden, so I was more than a little surprised to visit Marcia Tolin at her new listing at 4180 Hurley Drive.   Here was this house on the west side of Eastridge’s steep hillside that pulls off a formal look without much effort.

Whoever designed the front yard deserves a medal for thwarting an isosceles triangle of a slope and allowing it to fit in with the usual regularities–even numbers of plants, regular spacing, strict geometrical shapes–that characterize the formal garden.

So how was this effect of casual symmetry achieved?    Well, with respect to the afore-mentioned slope, containment seems to be the plan.  Below, the incline is defined by  six rounded pittosporums (five show up in the photo above).  The clean wall with brick that matches the house borders the drop-off at the top.  Myoporum–not my favorite plant but certainly serviceable and easier to manage than ice plant — provides  green uniformity to the the slope, and even allows the indiscretion  of the occasional boulder.

Even the orb spider is tricked out in yellow at 4180 Hurley Drive.

My favorite, touch, though, is the use of yellow.  Yellow is arguably too playful for the formal palette, but here it is used to great advantage in the euonymous that punctuate the date palms in the planter next to the house . . .  and in the brightly painted corbels and trim.  The suggestion that the formality shouldn’t be taken too seriously is perfect for the ethos of La Mesa.  To see more of this house, especially, the inside, which Marcia has done a great job of staging, visit her at Marcia Tolin.

Euonymous:  a well-behaved, drought-tolerant shrub