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A Mediterranean Courtyard in Santa Monica

Articles: A Mediterranean Courtyard in Santa Monica

A simple gateway opens to the front courtyard of Nancy Goslee Power’s Santa Monica garden. Photographs by John M Hall
Walled patios and courtyards are an indelible part of California’s history, introduced as a style by the Spanish missionaries in the late eighteenth century. The padres’ idea of the enclosed courtyard harked back to southern Spain, with its Moorish—and fundamentally Persian—aesthetic. The wells and fountains in the California missions were not only practical; they were a symbolic honoring of water . . . suggesting an oasis in an arid landscape. The old abandoned missions continue to instruct California garden design today. The plants that have survived without irrigation— the aloes, agaves and olives—are noted and revered for their ruggedness, and the enclosed colonnaded courtyards and fountains themselves inspire our notions of outdoor living in a hot climate. Nancy Goslee Power [is] certainly influenced by this old vernacular style. [She takes] the idea of enclosure, the courtyard, the walls, the pools of water, and reinterprets them in a contemporary way.
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