Design with Nature in Mind
An in-depth look at Ruth Shellhorn’s midcentury garden oasis.
INTEGRATION WITH NATURE In 1948, Ruth was commissioned to design a garden for artist Edith Knapp’s studio in Brentwood, California. The homeowner expressed that preserving views of native plant life beyond the garden was of the utmost importance, making it a perfect project for the sustainably minded Ruth.
She designed an innovative glass screen in front of the view of the Santa Monica Mountains to protect guests from up-canyon winds. Ruth included a colorful, textured foreground for the windscreen using succulents, as well as orange and coral fuchsias, camellias and azaleas. The integration of the windscreen encouraged an interaction with nature and is a classic element of midcentury design.
ATTENTION TO DETAIL The garden was carefully detailed with foliage that would accent each area of the patio accordingly. Ruth included rough timbers as risers, redwood rounds for treads, and decomposed granite for the path. She planted garden foliage that would transition into the native plants surrounding the exterior to create a seamless oasis for the homeowner.
Ruth visited the property six times a year to track the progress of the garden’s growth and give maintenance instructions. Her attention to detail was one of her strongest attributes as a landscape architect.