Part 4 – Greene Garden Restoration

In the early 1980’s, erosion threatened the structure and the garden was in need of restoration so, in 1981, with the support of the Pasadena Garden Club, member Lisa Clement contacted landscape architect Isabelle Greene, granddaughter of noted architect Henry Greene, to develop plans to upgrade the grounds surrounding the building. It was the first public garden designed by Greene. “The garden would be in my original homeland of Pasadena, on the edge of the Arroyo Seco where I had played among the stones as a child and first seen pollywogs. The site tugged at my heartstrings; it spoke of my grandfather, of the Craftsman era, and all that was lovely and embedded in my childhood memories. It spoke of the best of all possible worlds…I remember feeling quite muddled as to how to speak to more than one person at a time. Of course I needed to talk over what the relationship would be, how I would proceed, what the needs would be, and what the required results would be. It was a totally different frame of reference and I had no solid ground to put my feet on. I guess I felt it all had to be decided at one sitting – rather like going on stage for a one-time performance. Yet I found the garden club ladies very engaging, in fact, I loved them immediately.” (Greene, p. 2)

“From the street, the visitor’s…view was a…garbage dumpster…Beyond the dumpster stood an enormous dead oak tree…Festooned on [the] roof was a large air-conditioning unit and an upright conduit to which were attached…electrical wires leading in all directions. Moving around to the rear door of the building there were several more garbage cans…a railing of chain and galvanized posts, and an assemblage of meters, pipes, boxes, valves and other utilitarian elements that had encrusted the entire southern end. Looking back toward the street, one’s eye traveled over…asphalt [and] some patchy lawn.” (Greene, p. 4) “Thus ensued a long and lively relationship with the ladies of the Pasadena Garden Club. I had never seen anything like this group: bright, determined, and knowledgeable: so well-informed and so diplomatic that the project carried a momentum no matter what the obstacles that came before it.” (Greene, p. 6) Plans for the project slowly made their way through city offices and were finally approved thanks to “Lisa Clement [who] stepped up to the plate as strong as a general in her white-haired lady-likeness…” (Greene, p. 9)

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