RLC Adobe - The Lily Pond
This pond is a self-filtering ecosystem that was created by Ralph Cornell in 1930. It is one of many features that he added when the adobe home was turned into a private residence for the Llewellyn Bixby Sr. family. In addition to the lily pads, the pond contains mosquito fish - which, fortunately, feed upon mosquito eggs! It also attracts ducks each spring, usually a pair of mallards that does not seem to mind the bustle of this space. As you exit the courtyard through the double green gates, continue to your left to find the orchard pathway. It is just past the ox cart (caretta), which was created for Rancho Los Cerritos as a volunteer project, using old-fashioned woodworking tools, by wood-shop students at Compton High School.
Backstory and Context
Benjamin Wilson, who spent time here during the Mexican-American war, said: “…through the large gate in the wall that closed the patio, there was always much going and coming here, for the ranch business involved the use of saddle horses and carriages. It was a sunny, friendly, busy place, much loved and frequented by the many cats and dogs.” When the Bixbys lived at Rancho Los Cerritos, they used this courtyard’s barren space for work as well as family gatherings to celebrate special occasions, like the Fourth of July (when children stayed up late to watch fireworks).
When Ralph Cornell was commissioned to landscape the inner courtyard in the 1930s for Llewellyn Bixby Sr., he sought to create an intimate family garden within the home that simultaneously encouraged the “new” concept of outdoor living to take advantage of Southern California’s mild climate. Cornell’s plan included installing the lawns, lily pond, and brick terrace, and planting annuals for color and native sycamores to buffer the view of nearby neighbors. Despite changes that time has wrought, the courtyard today still offers echoes of the past thanks to the deft hand of Cornell.