Back in 1956, on a recommendation, Orvis Anthony got a job working for a doctor in Hancock Park. Pretty soon, the spritely young gardener got another job, and then another.
Before long, he mowed half the lawns in the neighborhood, at least that’s how the legend goes.
“Everybody knows Orvis around the neighborhood,” said one of his longtime customers. “It was hard for him to let go, and it was hard for me,” said Kay Gates, S. McCadden Pl.
Anthony, 90, has retired. He figured it was time, he said last week sitting on a spacious porch in Gates’ backyard. Born in Texas, he moved to Los Angeles in his youth and soon started landscaping the park-like yards of Hancock Park, Windsor Square and Larchmont Village.
It was different back then, noted Gates, who moved to the area in 1962 with her late husband, Peter, and raised two children. “We knew everybody all the way up and down the street. Children played in the yards; there were no fences or walls like today.”
A longtime gardener herself, Gates kept raised vegetable beds.
“She’d leave the heavy stuff for me,” laughed Anthony, who is a father of two. He said his jobs have become fewer and fewer the past few years.
The still-spry nonagenarian noted that the state’s drought has changed the landscape, but Gates’ front and back yards are still well tended.
After all, Anthony recommended her new gardener, smiled Gates.
While Anthony is officially retired, his wife Maria Christina still drives him from their Gardena home once a week to tend four gardens. “It feels like retirement,” compared to the 30 homes he and his crew once visited weekly, he says.