Hancock Park GC was host to 68 western gardening leaders

| April 25, 2024 | 0 Comments

URBAN OASIS opening session in the Jennifer Fain back yard was a presentation by Chicago landscape architect Robert Rock (at left, out of picture) about the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing.

A masterpiece of planning and execution was the just-completed Garden Club of America (GCA) Zone II Regional Meeting held in Los Angeles. Hostesses and organizers were the members of the local GCA group, the Hancock Park Garden Club (HPGC) — founded here in 1962.

Per its website, the local organization “furthers the knowledge and love of gardening for its membership and contributes to the beautification of the greater Hancock Park area through community projects.”

HPGC is one of the 199 garden clubs that are members of the GCA, which is a nonprofit national organization founded in 1913, with nearly 18,000 individual members. The GCA is composed of 12 regions, with Hancock Park being in Region XII, which includes 18 garden clubs, from Colorado west to Hawaii and from Washington State south to Los Angeles and Pasadena.

“Urban Oasis”

The logistically complicated, educationally stimulating, and socially memorable April 16-17 gathering in Los Angeles was titled “Urban Oasis” and was led by HPGC co-chairs Flo Fowkes, of Windsor Square, and Gina Brandt, of Hancock Park.

They and their fellow ladies of the local garden club had a total of 68 guests from other western United States GCA clubs. Each of the Region XII clubs was allowed to bring its president and one delegate. Additionally, the heads of the Zone XII committees (conservation, publications, legislative advocacy, etc.) were invited. Also attending were national leaders of GCA, including Marilyn Donahue, from Rye, New York, the current GCA president.

HPGC MEMBER Carolyn Bennett leads a group of visitors up the sidewalk from one Plymouth Boulevard house to the next.

For the Urban Oasis events, the local HPGC members — other than president Michaela Burschinger of Brookside — did not attend; they just worked! The HPGC members were busy, per Fowkes, “staffing the meeting and executing the meeting’s details.”

Early arrivals

And the details were myriad, from presentations to tours to entertaining the visitors. Some of the out-of-town attendees did arrive early for optional events such as visits to the Academy Museum and the Magic Castle, a trip to Robinson Gardens in Beverly Hills, and more. There was a Sunday supper at the Fremont Place home of member Shar Penfold following Frank Lloyd Wright Ennis House tours arranged by HPGC member Priscilla Chase.

Robert Rock, ASLA

The official conference kicked off on Tuesday, April 16, at the home of member Jennifer Fain. The full contingent of guests gathered there for a backyard talk by Chicago landscape architect Robert Rock, who designed the local Annenberg Wildlife Crossing over the 101 Freeway near Agoura Hills Valley, and who described the how, why and where of the project and the progress made to date.

VISITORS VENTURE up the driveway to see the Han / Park back garden. The front yard is mostly xeriscape, and the back yard is green.

Six gardens

That completed, HPGC workers acted as guides to groups of 18 visitors who walked to six gardens, five of them on Plymouth and Windsor boulevards in Windsor Square, and one in Hancock Park.

In Windsor Square, the attendees saw: the Curran / MacLellan garden (where Larchmont Chronicle columnist Brian Curran spoke briefly about the preservation of the historic O’Melveny House), the Han / Park garden, the Miller garden (where HPGC member Pat Benner spoke about her design for that garden and the nearby Fischer garden) and the Rheinstein Garden.

A SIDE YARD “garden room” is next on the tour of the Han / Park Garden.

The one Hancock Park garden was the Yust garden, where the late Clara Yust’s daughter, Allegra, gave tours of her mother’s expansive Italianate grounds.

THE ONE HANCOCK PARK GARDEN on the tour was the Italianate one of Larry Yust, through which his daughter, Allegra, toured groups of Garden Club visitors.

Back in Windsor Square, and in the tradition of “exiting through the gift shop,” the next-to-last Windsor Square garden was that of Oona Kanner, where there was a boutique shopping opportunity.

SHOPPING ASSISTANTS (and HPGC members) Caroline Labiner Moser (left) and Michaela Burschinger (right) stand with Olivia Kazanjian, proprietress of Jewelry by Olivia K at the Urban Oasis Boutique set up in the Oona Kanner garden.

Carlotta Keely and Edie Frere spearheaded the al fresco boutique that featured: Windsor Square jewelry designer Olivia K; an umbrella designed by New Yorker (and Suzanne Rheinstein’s daughter) Kate Brodsky; totes and towels and flower-related paper goods from Landis Gifts and Stationery; needlepoint from A Stitch in Time; and the Kilte cashmere collection. Proceeds support HPGC community projects. (Learn more at hancockparkgardenclub.com.)

Drinks and dinner

The last stop before dinner was the Windsor Square garden of Leah Fischer for a brief cocktail party hosted by HPGC members Marge Graf and Shelley Schulze, where the visitors were served hors d’oeuvre by HPGC tray-passers including Daryl Twerdahl, Mary Pickhardt, Janet Loveland, Diane McNabb and others.

And then, it was off to eight local homes for HPGC member dinner parties in honor of the visitors. (Most of the out-of-towners were staying at the Short Stories Hotel on Fairfax Avenue, right across from the Original Farmers Market.)

The Tuesday night dinner venues were the homes of HPGC members: Melanie Boettcher, with co-hostesses Wendy Guzin and Maggie Kuhns; P.J Clark, co-hosted by Rosie Juda, Annie Johnson and Anne Mansour; Pam Clyne; Elizabeth Debreu, co-hosted by Edie Frere and Julie Grist; Susan Humphreville, co-hosted by Susanna Funsten and Marla Ryan; Lisa Hutchins, with co-hostesses Ginger Lincoln and Gill Wagner; and Marnie Owen, co-hosted by Stacey Twilley and Shelley Schulze.

David Rubin, FASLA

The next day was a business meeting and awards luncheon at Wilshire Country Club. The Wednesday keynote speaker was another national heavyweight in the landscape field, David Rubin, FASLA. From Philadelphia, Rubin had been the 2010-2011 recipient of the GCA’s Rome Prize in Landscape Architecture. His prominent firm emphasizes “socially-purposeful design strategies … landscapes that create positive change.”

Understandably exhausted after all was said and done, Fowkes still wanted to point out that, “Of course we did our own floral arrangements” (spearheaded by member Christine Lowry with her committee of Rosie Juda, Mary Pickhardt and Anne Mansour).

GARDEN CLUB OF AMERICA guests in the garden of Leah Fischer were served hors d’oeuvre by HPGC passers. Shown in this photo are servers Daryl Twerdahl, Mary Pickhardt, Janet Loveland and Diane McNabb.

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