John Nalbandian’s Garden

2006 Riviera Court

John Nalbandian started down the garden path while growing up in an ethnic family in Los Angeles. Every Sunday the extended family of 10 would gather for breakfast at his grandparents’ house. After breakfast, his grandfather would treat the family to a walk around his yard where he had planted trees, bushes, and flowers. 

Now, every day when weather permits, Nalbandian says, he walks around his yard. During these walks, Nalbandian’s greatest enjoyment comes from learning over time that a garden is more than flowers. A garden is made of shapes, colors, contours and design — what complements and what contrasts.

From the garden he has learned that enjoying life is more than valuing each other. Plants are living as well. “I wonder sometimes what the human equivalent is to ‘cutting back’ to promote spring growth,” he said.

His yard consists of mini-gardens. It contains distinct areas with distinct views. For example, the best view of the back yard is from the side yards. However, to appreciate that one must look up as well as down. Nalbandian said he is often inclined to look down at the plants and flowers that are in front of him. He must remind myself to look outward as well.

The biggest challenge in the garden is that the mature size of the trees was not considered. Many full-sun perennials now grow in shade, although they were planted in sunny areas. Looking around Nalbandian’s backyard garden, a visitor might notice an unusual site not typically seen in a garden – dead shrubs wrapped in aluminum foil. These, Nalbandian said, are his favorite plants. Those bushes died about the same time that his wife died from cancer. Instead of digging up the dead branches, he covered them in aluminum foil as a way to bring attention and respect to life no longer with us. 

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