Thornton Gardens, San Marino, California


Thornton Gardens is an exercise in legacy landscape planning at the highest level.


With a stately mansion designed by Myron Hunt and portions of the original gardens by Florence Yoch and Lucille Council, this historic property is the largest property in San Marino after the celebrated Huntington Gardens. For Preservation Green LLC, the challenge was to create a legacy garden for the owners who are leaving their property to the Huntington Museum for special events.


The owners of Thornton Gardens have put in place a 20-year masterplan effort to restore the original grounds and core gardens by Yoch and Council and expand the site to its original size. Building on the site’s exemplary historic structures, we collaborated with the owners to carefully add garden features. Our original masterplan inspired the owners to acquire the adjacent residential properties to make room for a stone conservatory, a potting house, a small farm, a classically inspired barn and citrus orchard, a guest house, a pool house and garden with flanking arbors, a new lake carved from the foundations of a former neighboring residence, a boat house and a hierarchy of paths and service roads within a carefully constructed walled landscape park.


In addition, Thornton Gardens wanted to give something back to the community. With the future in mind, the master plan called for the creation of the now much revered Parkway Plantings, elegant swaths of planting along the sidewalk for all to enjoy. Using native California plants, drought-tolerant specimens and old European cultivars, the parkway tells the story of California landscape architecture merging with its Old World roots. Displaying a wide range of foliage, flowers, and color, the parkway embraces horticulture to the fullest.

© 2020 Preservation Green LLC. 

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