Photo courtesy Hott Productions


Ruth Shellhorn
Midcentury Landscape Design in Southern California

Over the course of her nearly sixty-year career, modernist landscape architect Ruth Shellhorn (1909–2006) created close to four hundred landscape designs, many of them in collaboration with the most celebrated architects in Southern California. Finding her calling at age fifteen—inspired by her Pasadena neighbor Florence Yoch—Shellhorn began her formal training at Oregon State in 1927 and then transferred to Cornell. She opened a practice in Los Angeles after a life-altering trip through the Panama Canal. Shellhorn never forgot the bounty of the tropics she discovered on her voyage.  

Today she is best remembered for her Bullock’s department store designs—lush gardens and fountain-filled courtyards that lured shoppers with the promise of the “Southern California experience.” Shellhorn also worked to preserve the region’s coastline and native landscape, and helped design the landscape for Disneyland, conferring on circulation and plantings. A year later, she became supervising landscape architect for the University of California at Riverside, a position she held for eight years. During her long and diverse career, Shellhorn also designed many private gardens in Los Angeles and Pasadena. Elegant, exotic, and colorful, they were among the most horticulturally distinctive designs of their day.

You can read more about this important modernist landscape architect in Ruth Shellhorn.

Created by LALH in association with Florentine Films/Hott Productions, Inc.