Peace Garden When TV and film composer Nate Barr hired landscape designer Zabra Yee to transform his Topanga Canyon property, his instructions were simple. “I was familiar with her work and told her basically ‘do your thing.’ I just wanted an area where I could sit and relax with a fountain. I love the sound of running water,” Nate says. With loads of room for creativity, Zabra dove in. “I knew right away I wanted to make a peace garden with the elements of water, fragrance and sound. The property has magnificent views that stretch to the ocean and we wanted to design around that.” First on the agenda: the focal points. Zabra and her crew, Maria Perez and Fermin Ruelas, purchased three structural I-beams from Industrial Metal Supply Company in Sun Valley. Two were placed in succession, essentially framing a view of some blossoming cherry trees in an adjacent grassy field. A flagstone walkway edged in silver-hued dymondia was installed under the archways and a hardenbergia vine that blooms with pea-shaped purple flowers in winter was planted on one of the I-beams. The third beam was used to hold a swinging daybed that Zabra crafted from an old door. For the landscape designer, it’s not about creating symmetry or an overly manicured look. “I like planting things in groups, typically a group of one variety in three and then another variety in a group of five. It’s about creating points of interest with a lot of texture and complementary colors.” A custom-made Lima bean-shaped fountain was placed near the edge of the property with a mix of water-wise perennials, shrubs, grasses and succulents in the foreground. A concrete fountain purchased from Garden Temple in Studio City sets off the entrance of the garden. Behind it, on the hillside, purple lantana, multicolored African daisy and an acacia provide a colorful, textured palette. “Walk-on” mulch provided the finishing touch to the garden, which must be watered two to three times a week in summer. Nate was out of town when Zabra and her team installed the garden. When he returned after a month of travel, he was delighted. “I come out here every day and it’s like living on the edge of the wild in Topanga. It is so peaceful here; it feels like there is nothing below me. It’s a beautiful little oasis in the middle of a canyon.
MAY/JUNE 2019 | VENTURA BLVD