In with the New…and the Old - Page 2

Design pro revisits key mid-century themes tied to new CA-Modern landscaping story
Fridays On the Homefront
Fridays On the Homefront
Two views of Trainor's Eichler garden design for the Meyers
family of Palo Alto.
Fridays On the Homefront
Landscape architect Bernard Trainor: balancing respect
for the garden's original design with 21st century options.

As far as these older plants serving the mid-century modern ideal of homes complementing and blending into their site, he notes, "That's not bad that it's survived all this time."

Using these heritage plants as "building blocks" to new design options, Trainor says, he sought to complement them in turn with "new plants that were not available then."

Installing a grass-paved driveway for the Kreadens is one example, he says, adding, "I think that's a relatively new idea."

Mostly, however, updating both Eichler gardens involved adding various succulents and other relatively drought-resistant, grass-like plants such as South African restios.

As Miller says in the CA-Modern story on mid-century landscaping, "Water conservation was not a hot topic then [in the mid-century]. Water was seen as abundant and unlimited. Today there is a strong emphasis on lower water and energy use, so you are no longer seeing expansive lawns.

"This is one of the challenges when working on a garden where a strong mid-century feeling is desired," Miller concludes.

You can see that contemporary sensibility in photos of Trainor's two Eichler designs featured in the story and at his website,

Another concept Miller discusses is the integration of interior and exterior practiced in modernist design: "The modern mid-century landscapes really strived to make the outdoor spaces equally important to the indoor spaces."

Trainor says the glass walls of an Eichler in particular present specific challenges to landscape design, namely, "It means I need to bring my best work to the spaces because the garden is visible from every perspective day and night."

For hardscape in mid-century modern yards, Trainor says, he avoids excess with "clean design" that is "open and airy."

Most of all, though, Trainor says, he tries to balance respect for the original design with all the options open in the 21st century.

"We don't want to turn our back on the history of the place, but we don't want to turn our back on what we know now," he concludes of his Eichler experience.

To view Trainor's designs (as well as some by Miller, original Eichler landscape architect Richard Royston, and contemporary Encinitas-based designer Richard Risner), here's 'Seamless Flow to and Fro'—a sneak preview of the new spring issue of CA-Modern.

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