Viva Mexico

South-of-the-border style inspires a California garden


Willow chairs invite lounging on the large front porch, which doubles as a gallery for a festive collection of Mexican artifacts.


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For Karen Rudolph and Jimi Simmons, a garden is a place to celebrate one's heritage. So the couple ― whose family is a blend of native Californian and Native American ― filled the landscape around their house in Los Altos, California, with objects that remind them of their ties to Mexico and the Southwest. Flowers, furnishings, and cushions in vibrant colors mingle with playful art objects to complement the family's casual, sun-country lifestyle.

Rudolph describes her garden's style as rascuache, Chicano slang meaning a haphazard collection of things that express pride in your culture. It's the Mexican American version of shabby chic ― a mix of Mexican pottery, Native American art, souvenirs from travels, and Rudolph's own fanciful creations, including a chandelier made from an old wagon wheel and a painting of the Virgen de Guadalupe on a screen door.

In the front yard, an extended porch serves as a gallery for Rudolph's many collectibles, such as wood carvings, tinwork, and clay masks. The east-facing front porch provides plenty of comfortable seating for basking in early-morning sunlight. Here, a joyful blend of flower-filled pots lines terra-cotta walls and turquoise posts adorned with Native American plaques, woven baskets, and more.



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