Enchanted gardens: Mission magic

An inspired marriage of plants, furnishings, and accessories makes these gardens magical
Sharon Cohoon

When Charles Eglee approached Los Angeles landscape architect Rob Steiner for help with his Pacific Palisades, California, garden, he knew what he was after: "I wanted to move the inside out."

A collection of Bauer pottery from the '20s sets the tone for the interior of the mission revival-style house Eglee shares with his wife, Ninkey Dalton. He wanted the pottery to inspire the garden.

Steiner made a bright orange jardiniere the focal point of a large koi pond encircled by a ribbon of bog plants. "Basically, we made most of the backyard a water garden," he says. The jardiniere also inspired plant choices, such as orange-flowered cannas. And it provided the tie-in for more clay art - a plaque of San Jose tile hangs on one wall, and the table is topped with mosaic.

When an 80-year-old front-yard tree died, Eglee asked Steiner to turn the newly sunny space into "a hacienda courtyard." Naturally, they started with a fountain. And, just as naturally, its centerpiece was another Bauer work - this one, a cool blue oil jar. Again, the jar inspired plant choices. The blue foliage of the agaves, for example, seems dyed to match, and the yellows and red oranges of aloes, nasturtiums, and daylily blooms are a delicious contrast.

As Steiner says, the Eglee-Dalton garden, although quite small, is amazingly rich.