Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Gothic Garden: The Witch's House

My last post was about the Witch's House in Beverly Hills, but today the focus on the property's south-facing front garden. Much of this garden receives full sun, with very few areas receiving partial shade. (The photo above was taken around 6:30pm, so those are late-afternoon shadows you see.)

First of all, I would call the landscaping at the Witch's House more of a gothic "Halloween Garden" rather than a "Witch's Garden", because it does not rely heavily on the medicinal plants and herbs that are traditionally used in a witch's garden. Instead, we see a lot of fall colors, especially blacks and oranges. (Note: black plants are almost never truly black, but the term used for very dark-colored plants.)

Here, dark-leafed, orange-flowered "Dahlia Mystic Desire" mingled with green-leaved varieties of dahlias:

 A dark backdrop was achieved with this ground cover of "Dragon's Blood" sedum (Sedum spurium), shown here near the pond's edge:

Here is a planting of pygmy crimson barberry (barberis):

A variety of dark-leaved coral bells (heuchera) were used along the sidewalk, along with orange-blossoming California poppy (Eschscholzia californica, not in bloom at this time):

Even the pads of these water lilies (Nymphaea) were streaked with a very dark purple:

We also saw much attention paid to plant form and texture.  Spine-covered Euphorbia "Lomi" Thai Giant Hybrid discourages trespassers as much as the "No trespassing" sign held in the craggy branches of manzanita (Arctostaphylos).


I'm told these tall plants resembling cornstalks are called Black Sorghum and were planted by seed:

Here is a closer look at a seedhead:
Image Detail

This type of sorghum can be used in dried flower arrangements, and has healthful antioxidant properties if eaten. The sorghums are supported by uniquely loopy wire cages as seen below:

I've no clue as to the name of this distinctive plant with its alien-looking seedheads:

Curly corkscrew rush (Juncus grass curly wurly) grows like a witch's untamed hair by the pond:

I'm not sure about this weeping shrub or young tree, but I'm guessing it's some type of Weeping Katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum).  The branches look like they also have a crazy twisted form:

It certainly stands out against the gothic setting of the black plants:

As I mentioned earlier, the flowers tended to be in Fall colors of orange and yellow. These are milkweed/butterfly weed (Asclepias curassavica or Asclepias tuberosa) :

Blanket flowers (Gaillardia) provided more orange and yellow blooms:

Another dahlia from the Mystic series, coreopsis, and gaillardia:

Black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens') line the pathway in the west side garden:
The dark plantings and grassy plants with an intentionally overgrown look blend the parkway strip into the overall scheme:

The hardscaping tied the home's Storybook archetechture to the surroundings by the use of various-sized stone in walls and and in walkways:

Landscape lighting was provided by rock-shaped fixtures. This one was postioned by the only rosebush I saw in the garden, a rose with dark red blooms:

Trellises are custom made twists of wire and resemble thorny vines:

The wooden fences had uneven pickets:

The pond is used as a moat; one must cross the bridge to get to the front door of the Witch's house:

The bridge used faux tree trunks, formed from concrete, as pillars:

This etched rock by the front gate, (partially covered by sweet peas Lathyrus odoratus that are past their prime), credits landscape designer Jane Marshall. She can be reached at her website,

Hope you enjoyed this garden tour. If I've misidentified a plant, please leave a comment to let me know.


  1. Thanks so much for this! I used to run past the Witch's House when I lived in WeHo. Always loved it! Thanks for the overview!

  2. Those pictures are fantastic. So wish I could have seen the place in person. So jealous! :) Thanks for sharing with the rest of us!


  3. LOVE all the pictures!!!! Very neat share.

  4. I really enjoyed this garden tour! thanks for sharing! very nice pictures! The Witch's House is gorgeous and fantastic! I would love to see this storybook house in person! I've read somewhere that it is private and the real estate agent Michael Libow lives here. He is a lucky guy! great overview!


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