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Sunday in Palm Springs - Smoke Tree Ranch and a Restored Eckbo, Royston, & Williams Garden

  • March 26, 2023
  • 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM
  • Palm Springs, California
  • 0


  • Current CGLHS Members
  • Available to the general public starting February 22rd. Includes one year membership to CGLHS.

Registration is closed

The restored Eckbo, Royston, & Williams landscape at the Koerner Residence.

Photo courtesy Henry Blackham.

On Sunday, March 26, Eden editor Steven Keylon will host a very limited number of guests for an exclusive CGLHS spring fundraiser in Palm Springs. Attendance will be limited to thirty. CGLHS members will have an opportunity to buy tickets before they are released to the general public on February 22.

The day will start with a rare chance to see historic Smoke Tree Ranch and step into Palm Springs in the 1920s with vast open desert spaces, a sprinkling of intermingled houses, and a Western-themed Guest Ranch reminiscent of the simplicity of life in a by-gone era. Nearly 400 acres in total, Smoke Tree Ranch is entirely unique. After a stroll through the mature desert specimen garden, where we will hear more about the history of Smoke Tree Ranch, guests will be treated to a luncheon at the Ranch House.

Smoke Tree Ranch entrance, circa 1950. 

Following lunch, guests will drive the short distance to nearby Deepwell Estates, to the magnificent Koerner Residence. Steven Keylon recently authored the Class 1 Historic Resource nomination for the Koerner Residence and will share the history of this important house and garden. Sited on an acre parcel, the house was designed in 1955 by architect E. Stewart Williams. Collaborating with landscape architects Eckbo, Royston, & Williams, the team created a masterpiece of environmental design. The house was recently and painstakingly restored using the original blueprints, reducing the square footage to bring the architecture back to its original configuration.

The landscape was also restored by preservation landscape architect JC Miller, using Eckbo, Royston, & Williams' original landscape drawings. This spectacular landscape is now the best and most authentic example of a modernist landscape in the Coachella Valley. Miller, who oversaw the restoration of the gardens, will walk us through the exacting process.

This special Tour and Talk will be the first tour of this beautiful garden ever offered.

To read the Koerner Residence nomination, click here. 

For attendees local to the Coachella Valley, or those who may still be in the desert on Tuesday, March 28, you are invited to an optional cocktail reception and lecture at Smoke Tree Ranch's Disney Hall. Steven Keylon and JC Miller will be reprising their Modernism Week lecture "Landscape Exhibitionism: How Early Modern Landscape Exhibitions Influenced Eckbo, Royston, & Williams in Palm Springs." With rarely seen photographs and drawings, Keylon and Miller will show how contemporary California landscape design matured from a groundbreaking 1937 exhibition and on through the postwar years.

Detailed instructions will be emailed to registered attendees.

About our speakers:

STEVEN KEYLON lives in Palm Springs and writes and lectures about Southern California’s cultural landscapes. He is the editor of Eden, the Journal of the California Garden & Landscape History Society and the author of The Design of Herbert W. Burns (2018) and The Modern Architecture of Hugh Michael Kaptur (2019). He recently co-authored, with Tracy Conrad and Steve Vaught, Tom O’Donnell: Generous Spirit of Palm Springs (2022). He also serves as vice-president of the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation, is on the boards of DocomomoUS/SoCal and Beverly Hills Heritage and a founding member of The Cultural Landscape Foundation Stewardship Council. He is a sixth-generation Californian.

JC MILLER, ASLA, is a California licensed landscape architect with over 25 years of experience that includes analysis, planning, design, and construction documentation for a wide variety of project types.  A recognized expert on postwar landscape history, he writes and speaks frequently on mid-century California gardens and public spaces and the designers that shaped them. He is co-author (with Reuben M. Rainey) of two books on Robert Royston: Modern Public Gardens: Robert Royston and the Suburban Park (William Stout Publishers, 2006), and Robert Royston (University of Georgia Press in association with LALH, 2020). This is the first full biography of the landscape architect Robert Royston, in whose office Miller worked for over a decade and, as a principal, assisted Royston in the design and execution of his final projects.

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