LIFE BEGINS IN THE GARDEN: A Rock Star's Backyard
|Flea moved into his Moorish home in
1996---built for an opera singer in the 1920's and lived in by
Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, and The Velvet Under-ground during the
1960's---but he had no garden. He did have two acres situated on
a 45-degree incline and covered with weeds, fallen trees, and the
But because this is LA, Flea also had a chiropractor, who knew these artists who had never tackled a two acre hillside landscape before. But they had designed and planted a classical courtyard garden around a bronze angle they'd sculpted as part of the one percent Public Art Requirement in West Hollywood. Oddly, Reina de Los Angeles was the first public monumental bronze angle in the City of Angles in over 200 years...And while professional garden designers had warned Flea that the project would cost more than a million dollars and take several years to complete, the artists, Peter Dudar and Sally Marr, guessed that they might finish the job in three months, adding that they were going to approach it like anarchists.
Draped in embroidered Guatemalan fabrics, Native American jewelry, and chant bells, Dudar and Marr asked flea what he had in mind. flea, whose hair changes color every week and rippling
|dragon tattoos are
markings of a Punk era that never died, said, "do whatever
No stickler for deadlines (the Red Hot Chili Peppers' latest album, Californication, was released in June, two years later then expected), Flea remained laid back. In fact, the partnership of punk Rocker and Artists was more harmonious than most designer client relationships. Today, all three are proud of their unorthodox approach but credit this bond to a mutual respect for talent, imagination, and originality.
During what wound up to being a yearlong project, Dudar and Marr were undaunted by 105-degree heat coupled with El Nino rains. Some days, the band Jane's Addiction (with whom Flea was practicing for a US tour) would be jamming inside Flea's studio; a blues band would set up in a garage across the canyon; an oldies review would be noodling through sound check at the Greek Theater; the Mexican gardeners assisting on the project would position their radio dial to salsa station; and Dudar and Marr would blast Puccini and Verdi operas. The resulting cacophony would have pleased Schoenberg, the Father of dissonance. ( continued on page 4)
| Today that meeting of musical
styles is reflected in the landscape's multiple
personali-ties. It's home to 12 gardens in one. A 300 foot
long pathway with mosaic dragons' heads at either end snakes
down between a terraced hillside planted with cacti and a
rainforest complete tree-high mounted sprinklers for year-round
precipitation. A Victorian play- house resides at the farthest
corner of the property opening onto a perfect greensward.
("I can't believe it's all mine!" exclaimed Flea's
10 year old daughter, Clara, upon first spying it.)
There's an herb garden, rose garden, haven of epidendrums, and agave garden. There's even a Garden of Seven Dwarves---dwarf fruit trees planted atop pyramids. The entire Paradise is punctuated with scenarios of angle and gargoyles statuary in humorous combinations.
The plan began to evolve during cleanup, as Dudar and Marr got a feel for the site's varied ecosystems. A rough sketch continued to become more defined as they shopped for, and learned about, plants from nurserymen and as they ran ideas by Flea. "He never said no to anything," (continued on page 5)
(continued from page 4)
Marr explains. Dudar asked, "How about
a cactus garden?" Sure, my mom had one of those." Thus a well ordered,
beautiful plan took shape and served as a guide.