Country Club Neighborhood – Altadena, CA

 

The neighborhood surrounding the Altadena Town and Country Club is filled with old world charm.  Homes here tend to be large, with large lots, and lots of character.  Here you can find an abundance of Mediterranean, Spanish Revival, and Craftsman homes.  These range from the comfortable homes on tree lined streets, to grand estates.  Famous addresses include “The Walsh House” from the television “Beverly Hills 90210.”

Cool Cottages in Janes Village.

Yet another great area in Altadena for those of you who like efficient use of space, and great character architecture.  This video highlights some homes in Janes Village.  In the last 6 months there were 8 Janes cottages up for sale.  They start out at about $650k depending on condition, and the exact lot and structure sizes.  Remodeled homes have recently sold in the low $800k range.  Since these properties were “discovered”  they have been consistently selling at a premium above other comparable “Non-Janes” homes in the area.  I love them because although they are small by today’s standards, they are laid out so well that they feel comfortable inside.  Many were also designed with porches, so neighbors can interact easily in a front yard community environment.

 

Highview Avenue: Mid-Century Moderns in Altadena

Here’s a video for those of you who want to see Ain’s stunning modern development in Altadena, CA but don’t live close enough to visit.  For those who do live in the area, perhaps it will inspire a short walk, bike, or drive.

In the late 1940s, mid-century modern architect Gregory Ain designed Park Planned Homes.  The development consisted of a single block of elegant single-family residences lining both sides of the street.  The concepts of flexible use space, open floor plans, and seamless interaction between indoor and outdoor areas were all introduced during the period in which these homes were built.  Ain’s efforts to achieve these ends manifested itself in features like Post and Beam framing, casement windows, and walls of glass to allow maximum natural light were the strategies.  All of these features can be seen on Highview.

I love that many of the owners are restoring the homes.  Some are buying to resell, and others for their own use.  Either way, the block is looking nicer in recent years, and I it keeps going in that direction.   As of today, nothing is for sale, but recent sales suggest starting prices in the high $700k range.

A Great Night of Music in Altadena

Saturday marked a night of great music in Altadena with two fantastic musical combos playing at two very different, but very satisfying venues.   I started the evening out at The Folly Bowl, a cool and intimate space to enjoy live performances. The Folly Bowl is located at a private residence in Altadena, with an amphitheater built into the hill in the backyard.  Altamusica commanded the stage with a clean cut through the swath of jazz styles, playing some originals, as well as beloved standards. The weather was beautiful, and the crowd was very relaxed, taking in the setting scored by an evening of jazz.

I had to pull myself away,  because a little way down the road at Farnsworth Park, Bleeding Harp was rocking a crowd of dancing, clapping fans.  The Blues Rock combo was loud, and satisfying, the perfect counterpoint the quiet intensity of Altamusica earlier in the evening.   With this kind of musical scene going on, it’s no wonder so many people want to move to Altadena. Many thanks to everyone that worked together to make all of this happen.

Our Newest Flip in Altadena…Coming Soon!

I’m really excited about my newest project coming up in Altadena.  This cool mid-century has a lot of character, and an Oak Tree that must be at least 200 years old. It shades the ENTIRE property, providing a cool, and comfortable space, even on the hottest summer days.

 

Leigh Adams: Altadena’s Own

Leigh Adams: Altadena’s Own

Written By – Steve Aranda

 

On a wooded corner in the residential foothills of Altadena, there stands a fortress of greenery. The top of a two story home peeks out over a hedge of junipers, elms, and deodar. Bird song is rampant, and as you step up off the street to pass through the wooden gate out front, you feel as though you have just been transported to a different biome.

Beneath a canopy of trees, the temperature noticeably drops. The abundance of growth provides shade, medicinal herbs, aromatic flowers, and food. There are over 40 fruit trees on the property. Wildflowers interspersed with vegetables run alongside winding paths that lead nowhere.

In addition to its Eden-like qualities, there is something that makes this garden even more unique. Namely, here in Southern CA, the land of perpetual drought, this lush landscape gets watered at most only once a week, and frequently not at all.

The owner and creator of this amazing green-space is Leigh Adams, Altadena’s own “Water Harvesting Guru.” As a consultant for LA County Parks and Rec, and Public Works, she has been responsible for not only her own green wonder, but many others like it. These include installations at the LA County Arboretum, the main branch of the Altadena Library, and the new park being built at the corner of Lake Ave, and Altadena Drive.

Her gardens are the result of a lifetime of work and study in the fields of permaculture and water harvesting. They are in harmony with the native landscape, and intentionally decorative. Most interestingly, they are the climax of an ongoing story, one that began over 40 years ago in the least likely place for a master gardener to make her start – in the Mojave Desert…

In 1975 Leigh owned a large tract of land about 20 miles North West of Joshua Tree, when a fire tore through the area. The landscape was devastated. Pinyon pines, and manzanita, were burnt away, and what wasn’t destroyed was bulldozed in order to create a firebreak.

Adams recalls that after the fire, the landscape was transformed into a dead zone reminiscent of a Tim Burton nightmare. In an effort to convert the skeletons of trees, and shrubs into an homage to their former life, she chopped down the burnt remnants, and arranged them on the earth in patterns, along with rocks.

Time passed. Children came. She and her husband built a cabin and planted trees on a small portion of the land. The rest – over 10 acres – was largely left alone.

And then one day, almost 15 years later, a friend asked Leigh if she would like to go up in his plane and see her property from the air. She jumped at the chance. As they flew over the location however, she became dismayed. “I’m sorry,” she apologized, “I must have given you the wrong directions.” Looking down from the plane, she stared at a lush huge rectangle of green where there should have been only desert.

As unbelievable as it seemed, the directions she had given to the pilot were completely accurate. The oasis they were viewing from above was indeed her land. A mysterious transformation had occurred. When Adams laid those first dead tree trunks and branches on the earth and surrounded them with stones, she had unknowingly taken her first steps into the word of permaculture.

It turned out that logs, and stones had a different heat capacity than the air around them. During the cold nights and hot days in the desert, condensation formed due to the temperature difference, and dripped slowly back to the soil. Also, moisture was trapped beneath rotting wood, and alongside boulders, which provided shade from the sun.

Since then, Leigh spent her life exploring that mystery. She later added to it the crucial component of reclaiming storm runoff by taking the concept of parkway drains and turning it on its head; Instead of using the drains to push water off of her property, she used it to pull water onto it.

Today Leigh Adams’s work is a joy for all to experience. Her eco-friendly installations are some of the most progressive, responsible, and beautiful in the San Gabriel Valley. Her efforts to educate youth, and the public about water reclamation and conservation here in Southern California are tireless.

As Artist-in-Residence, and an Interpretive Horticulturist at the LA county Arboretum, Adams, until recently was in charge of the Crescent Farm, a man-made ecosystem that relies primarily on harvesting for its water. It also offers an artistic, native and sustainable alternative to traditional Socal sod.

Over an acre of lawn was removed to install the Crescent Farm. With Adams’s direction “new and ancient water conservation practices” were used to make this a living example of her work, and a great way to spend an afternoon. Recently John Latsko has taken the reigns, and the Farm continues to thrive and represent the values, they both worked to achieve.

I recommend a visit. The farm is a wonder to behold, and classes on permaculture are offered. But the real treasure is a visit with Leigh Adams herself, a fountain (pun intended) of knowledge, a true citizen of the earth, and someone Altadena can be honored to claim as a resource, and a resident.