Brent Green, my colleague down south, is a renowned landscape designer of the Los Angeles region. His landscapes are spectacular. You might not know it by all the mean things I say about Brent and his work, but his clients know otherwise. He makes the outdoor spaces around their urban homes seem like they are in serene and thickly forested jungles hundreds of miles away.

Well, . . . generally. That is what the landscapes look like to me. Some clients prefer simpler or sunnier gardens. What I often perceive as superfluous vegetation is there to obscure adjacent residences or other undesirable scenery. It is not as if neighboring residences are unsightly. They are obscured merely to provide privacy and a sense of solitude in a very crowded region.

While designing a landscape that is appealing to the senses, it is helpful to eliminate or at least obscure some of what is unappealing. This applies to more than visual aspects. In some urban areas, ambient noise is a constant reminder of all the hectic chaos just outside of a landscape. Dense vegetation that obscures undesirable scenery muffles some or even most, but not all of it.

That is why Brent incorporates what he refers to as ‘water features’ into many of his landscapes. The noise of the splashing water partly obscures ambient noise. Because Brent’s home is just a block from the Santa Monica Freeway, there are four small ‘water features’ in the gardens! That is excessive of course, and more than what larger landscapes in quieter neighborhoods get.

These water features seem silly to me. I find the mostly monotonous noise of the Santa Monica Freeway to be no more annoying than the sound of the splashing water. I might appreciate water features more if they did my laundry. However, there are a few water features where I work, even though ambient noise from the outside is rather minimal. There are no freeways.

Fern Dell Creek in the video above flows into the confluence where Bean Creek flows into Zayante Creek. Zayante Creek Flows into the San Lorenzo River just a short distance away. Two Redwood Springs Creeks, which are comparable to Fern Dell Creek, flow into Bean Creek just a short distance upstream from the confluence with Zayante Creek. All this water can get noisy.

Fern Dell Creek and the two Redwood Springs Creeks are short streams that flow from springs, so their minimal flow does not fluctuate much at all, even after heavy rain. Bean Creek and Zayante Creek have more substantial watersheds and carry significantly more water, especially after heavy or prolonged rain. Unlike Brent’s water features, we can not turn any of them off.


28 thoughts on “Water Feature

  1. Fern Dell Creek seems to be a lovely natural water feature — I live close to two major cross streets and between a high-speed toll road and a freeway. The toll road is primarily a rush-hour road, but I’d far rather have the sound of the creek than the sound of suburban traffic and freeways!

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    1. Most would. There are so many creeks here, and most of my work is around them. Zayante Creek flows through the yard. Yet, I miss the sound of traffic from my former neighborhood too.


  2. I’m now fascinated with Santa Monica because of reading Christopher Isherwood’s diaries. I wonder if Brent knows Don Bachardy?

    I love privacy and wish I could quickly block the view of all the neighbours, four of whom have blazing white security lights. It takes so long and I can’t afford to plant full sized trees and shrubs.

    Sent from my iPad


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    1. Santa Monica, like many places in California, is not what it used to be. What I like about the Santa Monica Mountains is that they look like they did in the 1980s, and long before that. Anyway, that name does not sound familiar. Brent and I know very different crowds. He is acquainted with a few people who are well known, but who I do not recognize. Some of Brent’s clients put considerable resources into landscaping for privacy. It seems to me that it would be less expensive to purchase a home that is not surrounded by millions of neighbors.

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      1. Bachardy still lives at 145 Adelaide Drive (the address is given repeatedly in the diaries) and I just found out that Rene Auberjonois, who played Odo in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, lived next door to him at 147 (until Rene died, last year)! At one point in the 1960s, Christopher Isherwood wrote to Bachardy that all the trees on their hillside property had to be cut down because of fire hazard. Later, they had a retaining wall, and there was one brief period in the diaries (in the 1970s) when some malicious person turned on their hose two or three different times during a severely rainy spell to try to destabilize the wall! The diaries refer to enjoying having hanging baskets on their deck but other than that, I don’t think they were gardeners; they hired gardeners to care for the property.

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      2. The Auberjonois Residence is exemplary of what people expect to see in Santa Monica. It is on the downhill side of the road, so that it does not obstruct the view from the apartments above. It faces into the canyon below, with a view of the ocean to the left. The canyon is so steep that the driveway comes up diagonally and merges with the driveway coming in the opposite direction from next door before turning onto the road. One of my grandfather’s ex-wives, who is a native of Santa Monica, had friends in the neighborhood.

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      3. Well, that where Christopher Isherwood lived for decades. Cool. His and Don Bachardy’s house is also set downhill so it would not wreck anyone’s view. They really hated it when some tall apartment towers were built at the end of the road..did not block their view, but look very out of place when seen on google earth.

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  3. I prefer the sound of water to traffic at this point in my life, but I lived for several years in the middle of Houston, and spent a good bit of time in NYC, and I’ll admit that there’s something about the sound of a city moving around that’s energizing and enjoyable. Without any water or traffic to enjoy, I put up my wind chimes yesterday. They’re really good ones: the Music of the Spheres brand. I have the alto, in a pentatonic tuning. You can hear them here.

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    1. When I stay in Los Angeles, I must tie up the wind chimes at Brent’s home because they are too loud, especially if the Santa Anna Winds are blowing. Otherwise, it is an excellent place to camp out, even with all the water features going. The weather has always been pleasant when I am there.

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  4. I like the sound of a water feature on a hot day. For me, it makes me feel cooler, just hearing the splashing water. And my birds and other small critters like it too (for all I know, so do the big ones–I have just never seen them drinking from it).

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    1. You know, I think what I like most about the water features in Brent’s gardens are that everyone else likes them, including the cats and dogs. Everyone comments on them. No matter how silly they seem to me, it is gratifying to see what others enjoy.


      1. Route 66 begins at the Santa Monica pier, but becomes part of the I-10 freeway about a mile inland — much of Rte 66 across the country was overlaid by Interstate freeways, so it basically disappeared when they were built.

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      2. It is still possible to follow much of the route of Rte 66, but there are areas where it has completely disappeared without the possibility of doing anything other than going around where it once went.

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      3. It is a tour I would like to take. When I went to Oklahoma, we got onto Route 66 in Barstow and followed to to Oklahoma City. Much of the modern highway was built where the original was. Some of the sections that were bypassed were still in use, and popular with tourists, but we were not being tourists at the time. If I do it again, I would like to start in Santa Monica, and follow the touristy route, even though it takes longer.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Wow, all the way! I really only want to go to Oklahoma City, but feel obligated to go all the way, especially if I go through the effort to follow the bypassed touristy routes through Southern California and Western Arizona.

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