When I first moved to Los Angeles there was a book in all the bookstores titled The Secret Gardens of Hollywood by Adele Cygelman, and I looked at it and did think of buying it because I like gardens and I like secrets, but it was $45 and so in the end I didn’t, but that title stayed on my mind.
Then, as I walked and explored the city, I soon learned that a very high percentage of gardens in these parts are in fact “secret” gardens, at least to the extent that they have high walls and tall hedges, fiercely impenetrable gates, and they turn their backs on the world, creating a private space that can’t be seen by the passing polloi: that would be me.
This applies more to the hills than to the flatlands, and more to the rich than the poor, and there are exceptions in all directions, but the general principle remains sound, I think. There’s even a thing that the local garden nurseries call a Hollywood hedge – like this:
And here's one in my own neighborhood:
But another thing, and in a sense it’s the same thing, a great many properties have a thin sliver of land that’s outside the fence or hedge, and the proud home owner doesn’t think much about it, certainly doesn’t think of it as part of the garden, and so it gets ignored and neglected, and “nature” takes over.
On the other side of the gate or wall or hedge, there’s order, and outside there’s chaos. Both obviously have their place and their attractions, but as a walker you see far more chaos than you do order. You can pick the symbolism out of that one till the cows come home.
Mr Brad Pitt lives on the other side of this mess: