Garden Dialogues 2023: Santa Barbara, CA

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Garden Dialogues 2023: Santa Barbara, CA

Event information, including the property address, will be shared with attendees the week of the event.

By The Cultural Landscape Foundation

When and where

Date and time

Saturday, April 29 · 3 - 5pm PDT


Montecito Residence ----- Santa Barbara, CA 93108

Refund Policy

Contact the organizer to request a refund.

About this event

  • 2 hours
  • Mobile eTicket

This iconic Lutah Maria Riggs house features walls of glass, a large biomorphic fireplace built of stone taken from the property, and an ideal siting and orientation to capture the spectacular mountain and oak forest views. Thomas Church's concomitant garden design completed a stunning inside-outside living experience central to midcentury architecture.

Montecito Residence, Santa Barbara, CA - Left Photo by House Beautiful Magazine, 1956; Right Photo By Mark Dishop, 2020

Over the years, the original Thomas Church landscape had fallen into disrepair, having been devastated by drought and substantially modified. Landscape architect Susan Van Atta worked with the current owners to re-establish a garden incorporating the remaining features of the Church landscape, including an original espaliered magnolia tree, a majestic stone bridge, boulder walls, and many other elements. A koi pond features a wooden crossing with a signature Church zigzag form.

Adjacent to the house, original Church hardscape areas and small planting wells were restored, and an original curved, paved path system was adapted and extended in Church fashion. Convenient gardens were replanted to grow kitchen herbs and butterfly-attracting flowering plants. An expansive grove of California oaks was returned to its initial naturalistic setting.

Montecito Residence, Santa Barbara, CA - Photo by House Beautiful Magazine, Courtesy Blackbird Architects, 1956

The current owners worked with Van Atta Associates and Blackbird Architects to ensure subtle, elegant approaches to design and sustainability in response to the site and the program. As a result of these efforts, the original character of the home is re-established in the spirit of Thomas Church, recreating a unified Modernist house and garden environment as he and Lutah Maria Riggs first envisioned it.

This garden is featured in Thomas Church’s Gardens Are for People (pp.70-71, third edition) and was included in a recent Lutah Maria Riggs documentary.

This Garden Dialogue will be led by Susan Van Atta, FASLA, the project’s landscape architect, and Ken Radtkey, FAIA, its architect.

Light refreshments will be served.

2.0 LA CES™ professional development hours will be available to attendees, pending approval.

About the organizer

The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit founded in 1998 to connect people to places. TCLF educates and engages the public to make our shared landscape heritage more visible, identify its value, and empower its stewards. Through its website, publishing, lectures, and other events, TCLF broadens support and understanding for cultural landscapes. TCLF is also home to the Cornelia Hahn Oberlander International Landscape Architecture Prize.




$100 – $150