2019 Landscape Design Award: Griffin Enright Architects


IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, a beautiful exterior is as vital to a home’s overall appeal as a stunning interior. “Our architectural work is about bringing the outdoors in,” says Margaret Griffin, who runs Los Angeles-based Griffin Enright Architects alongside her husband John Enright, “so it felt like a natural progression to start designing that area ourselves.” Griffin takes the lead on the firm’s landscape and planting design, and here in the couple’s own garden, Griffin’s ideas are in full flower.

Margaret Griffin

“Because it was ours, it could be anything I wanted,” she says. The Santa Monica site’s hillside location drove much of the design. “I like to have
a variety of scale and colors,” explains Griffin, who used both manmade and natural materials. Artificial turf on the uppermost roof deck absorbs the impact of the sun. A mix of concrete stairs and Cor-Ten steel and gravel risers step down the hill, creating an amphitheater effect.

“Layers emphasize the depth and make the space feel bigger than it actually is,” notes Griffin. Native and non-native plants were chosen for their ability to thrive in Southern California’s climate and entice the bugs and birds that stimulate pollination: fragrant elfin thyme, used in place of sod, attracts bees; aloes encourage butterflies, dragonflies and hummingbirds. Dramatic Pink Muhly blooms in the fall, marking the end of summer. “What I’m really fascinated with is the quality of time a garden reveals,” Griffin says, “and how some plants only bloom once a year. It’s just so special.” Consider it the secret ingredient for success.