Ruth Shellhorn

Kelly Comras

University of Georgia Press in association with LALH

Paperback $26.95
ISBN: 978-0-8203-4963-3

To order: University of Georgia Press
tel. 1-800-848-6224

A volume in the Masters of Modern Landscape Design series

Winner, ASLA Southern California Chapter Honor Award

Over the course of a nearly sixty-year career, Ruth Shellhorn (1909–2006) collaborated with some of the most celebrated architects and architectural firms in Southern California, including Welton Becket, A. Quincy Jones, and Wallace Neff. 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. An expert in regional plants with an intuitive understanding of the California landscape, Shellhorn would incorporate exotics into most of her designs.

In her Los Angeles Shoreline Development Study, Shellhorn designed for the automobile in a manner that preserved threatened shoreline. She treated the parking lots encompassing new department stores and shopping centers like gardens, grouping lush plantings around store entrances and creating fountain-splashed courtyards to lure shoppers with the promise of the “Southern California experience.” In 1955, Shellhorn helped lay out Disneyland, conferring directly with Disney on circulation and plantings for the various “lands.” 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 of their day.

KELLY COMRAS, ASLA, is principal landscape architect in the firm KCLA in Pacific Palisades, California. Ruth Shellhorn is the first book in the LALH series Masters of Modern Landscape Design.



“The author has provided a valuable addition to the increasing number of monographs that cover the oeuvre of 20th-century landscape architects in the United States and elsewhere. She has done so with an accessible volume that should interest professionals and garden and landscape lovers alike.”
—Landscape Architecture