Atrium Gardens - Page 3

Design tips and challenges: best bets for landscaping at your home's heavenly core
Atrium Gardens
This Eichler atrium garden in San Rafael, designed by landscape architect JC Miller, is built around a focal point of Japanese maple.

"The types of container plants that I think look best for modern homes are sculptural and coarsely textured, such as succulents. Containers often look good in groupings of two or three, in varied heights, but while using the same color or style of pot. I recommend a single, bold plant in each container, rather than a mixed planting."

Scott says she has good luck with some of the more robust houseplants, such as Dracaena marginata, Bromeliad, and Sansevieria, which offer a lot of varieties to choose from. "The Sansevieria, in particular, can take very low water, low light, and are practically indestructible."

"I am mindful of selecting plants that can tolerate sun or shade. One plant I like to use is Aeonium aborescens, an excellent succulent with a big, green rose shape," she adds.

"I've found that Nandina, or Heavenly Bamboo, can take heat, shade, whatever I throw at it. Another grass—a magical plant that can take sun, shade, and drought conditions—is Carex divulsa. You could under plant a Japanese maple or other tree with it, and it would do really well."

Atrium Gardens
In San Rafael, Michelle Wahlen incorporates Philodendron and foxtail fern to complement her lovely patio furniture.

OASIS CASE STUDY

Two decades ago, Leslie and Mike Eckart, Eichler homeowners in Orange County's Fairhaven tract, transformed their atrium into a lush island oasis.

"We bought our 1960 Eichler specifically for the atrium," Leslie says. "It's our own Hawaiian paradise complete with tropical plantings, and a circa-1960 lava-rock waterfall that forms an entire wall behind the Eckarts' palms.

Leslie and Mike chose mid-century and subtropical plantings, including Philodendrons, varieties of palm trees, Dracaena, ferns, and Bromeliads.

"It's a year-round garden," Leslie says. "All we do is trim and fertilize."

The Eckarts' plants include in-ground sago and bottle palms, surrounded by tiki statues that they have picked up on their travels. For shade, they added a partial cover of slats made from a biodegradable, earth-friendly material. They hand water in addition to operating a drip system.

  Atrium Gardens
The Moshiers' Thousand Oaks atrium is planted with American red pine, bamboo, foxtail fern, weeping lovegrass, and baby's tears.
 

In celebration of Leslie's birthday, Mike had rare, black flagstone installed in the atrium to emphasize its tropical feel.

"We finished the project off by using a black lava-rock ground cover and adding colored lights reminiscent of the 'Enchanted Tiki Room' at Disneyland," Leslie recalls.

Since Mike, a music producer, works htly from home, "He and his co-workers will frequently sit in the atrium," says Leslie. "There, they smoke a cigar and enjoy a cocktail after a long day of composing new jingles and radio spots."

"We love this house and garden and cannot imagine ever living anywhere else," Leslie says. Spoken like a truly dedicated Eichler owner, she added enthusiastically, "We left the beach for this house and have never had a single regret."

  Atrium Gardens
In their atrium in Orange, Leslie and Mike Eckart's homage to 1960s Hawaii features a fountain wall of volcanic rock surrounded by bottle palms, sago palms, and Monstera.
 

Designer June Scott chimed in with the last word. "If you have an atrium, cherish it," she says, "because it really is a unique environment!"

 

Photography: Sabrina Huang Photography, Jeri Koegel Photography, JC Miller, Martin Cox, Dante Pascual Jr., Leslie Eckart, Robyn & Joe Moshier, Greg Crowe, Dicle Roberts, Michelle Wahlen; and courtesy Lucile Glessner Design, June Scott Design, Jindrich Shejbal, Forest & Kim Starr, Kurt Buzard, Andreas Rockstein, SatrinaO, Wendy Cutler

 

STORY RESOURCES

JC Miller
Vallier Design Associates
vallierdesign.com

June Scott
June Scott Design
Junescottdesign.com