July 2019

The Los Angeles-based antiques dealer and designer, Richard Shapiro owns one of the most enviable gardens in California.

Having extensively travelled Europe and been deeply interested in the concept of The Grand Tour and all the art, architecture and objet one came across at that time, Richard Shapiro has translated his knowledge and passion into a verdant garden, brimming with character and artfully designed planting. Featuring a mock Palladian folly and approximately 700 mature boxwoods from Oregon, the garden has taken the Instagram world by storm thanks to the way it effortlessly straddles perfectly manicured style with laid-back, wild elegance. Inspired to design a garden that was eccentric and would fit perfectly within his desired genre of “fantastical Mediterranean antiquity”, Richard overhauled his classic Southern Californian backyard into a wonderland, richly layered with planting and filled with secret hideaways that are perfect for getting lost in.

Seclusion and mystery is created thanks to the employment of snaking ficus hedges, giant Japanese timber bamboo and labyrinth-style gravel pathways that weave their way throughout the garden. The effect is a landscape that feels as though it’s from a faraway land, filled with intrigue and magic. The once bland swimming pool has been transformed into a classical bathing pond, complete with algae-green paint effect and a distressed stone coping. At the foot of the pool stands the Palladian-style temple, which is a full-scale recreation of a neoclassical portico, complete with 21 foot-high columns, actually crafted from carved redwood with resin capitals and fibreglass bases, all coated in a mixture of plaster, lime and spray-painted moss. The result is a garden that feels as though it has always been there, creeping its way up through the ground, harbouring secrets and offering up a space where moments of peace and serenity can be experienced. This garden truly is a wonderland, reflecting the elegance and intelligence of those gardens once discovered on The Grand Tour.

Photography via Richard Shapiro