6 - 15 - 2010

a special garden

Anders and I are truly so fortunate to be able to work on some of the most beautiful homes and gardens in the Oklahoma City area; and to work for wonderful clients who are as passionate about their homes as we are – we call ourselves “house people”.

We have been working with one client, who from the beginning knew how important the garden was to their home. They purchased one of the most historic and elegant homes in our area a few years ago, and immediately began to put their personality stamp all over their stately home and the gardens which span over an acre in size.

When they first called me to discuss a renovation to the existing gardens, I could not believe how wonderful the setting of their home on the property was, the many stately shade and specimen trees, and all of the hardscaping which really sets off any garden design. I knew we had to make whatever we did look like it was original to this special home – not distract in any way – but rather enhance and improve only where it was needed.

We began by eliminating some of the common plantings like nandina and dwarf yaupon holly in favor of beautiful roses and clipped English boxwood. We also worked with them on some large scale improvements to the home including the construction of a new outdoor pavilion, pergolas to support new plantings of English and French climbing roses, a new outdoor kitchen, more hardscaping to allow for an expansion of herb garden, a new perennial border and the introduction of two beautiful fountains reproduced from old English designs.

This month, only 3 weeks after a devastating hail storm, the home and garden was opened to the public for an annual garden tour where the proceeds of the tour support our local park system. You would never have guessed many of the plants had been cut down to the ground only 3 weeks earlier….a testament to good pruning and twice a week feedings with Miracle Grow fertilizer!

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This is one of the new pergolas we designed and built. The goal of this pergola was two-fold – we wanted to create a sense of enclosure and intimacy for a terrace surrounded by a large expanse of lawn; but we also needed a way to support new plantings of the beautiful French climbing rose “Eden” and clematis “. In two years if properly supported and maintained this rose with be meandering its way at the top of the pergola! The roses create a natural trellis for the clematis – two of the best companion plants – rose and clematis!

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This fountain was placed outside of the terrace to create a more intimate horizon of the gardens - and as a focal point – water in the garden is always magical – and this fountain looks as if it has been in place for decades.

It’s always fun to create special table settings for a home or garden tour. My client had found this adorable antique wooden wheel barrow a few years ago and so it was planted with colorful plants and ground covers and served as the inspiration for this table setting. We used mossy green placements, twig chargers and found the perfect dishes with wheelbarrows and garden utensils. As if that weren’t enough we added small galvanized watering can napkin holders that we filled with tiny cuttings of fresh daisies…and then to top off the whole setting, succulents were planted in plastic margarita glasses. I had as many questions about the table setting as the plants in the garden!

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This is a photo of the new perennial border we added only last fall.  It is amazing to see how perennials continue to grow during the fall and early winter months.  The root system that they establish really shows itself in the late spring months when the plants literally burst into bloom with substantial growth.  This garden will only get better every year as the roses and clematis planted towards the back of the border work their way up this beautiful iron fence.  This is a perfect example of how to create a living tapestry with the right combination of plants.

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Water is a wonderful and magical element in the garden.  We added this unique hot tub – it provides visual interest and the sound of water as it spills over into a basin of mosaic glass tiles the same color as the water in the swimming pool. The stone platforms in the basin provide seating and a special home to these lanterns – which can be filled with plants or candles.

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Outdoor areas are defined by hardscaping and the placement of furniture.  In this setting beautiful outdoor wicker with cushions covered in a wonderful mix of outdoor fabrics provides a natural spot to sit and enjoy the surrounding gardens.

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When we designed the new outdoor pavilion we considered the functionality of the space. Although this is one large space we created different living areas within the space through the arrangement of furniture and accessories…outdoor dining, a place to watch fall football on TV, a cozy spot to pull up to the fireplace and even a hanging daybed for those days when a nap is in order.

The use of indoor elements when used outdoors underscores the “indoor living outdoors” mode that we all strive for. Sometimes an ordinary element used in an unordinary way makes the piece more special. Over the fireplace we placed a beautiful outdoor wall fountain as the “art” and it is filled year-round with seasonal plantings and color. Look at the use of blue and white elements – spread around to add a fresh yet European feel to the space. The chairs were a fabulous find at an estate sale. An oversized chandelier and vintage looking ceiling fans finish off the look and add extra ambiance to this space.

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We needed ample seating in the dining area and the chairs were chosen for comfort so they are large! We had the table top custom made from a slab of Durango Travertine – it sits atop three beautiful pedestals. Garden cuttings create a casual centerpiece with small treasures filled with succulents spread down the center of the table.

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Perhaps one of the most special elements in this new outdoor room is the hanging day bed.  It sits at one end of this room overlooking their beautiful park-like setting.

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Every inch of space was used at this property – an unused and unkept area behind the cabana was transformed into an herb and cutting garden.  The use of the clipped boxwood in a parterre keeps the garden tidy and looking good year round.  We put a beautiful copper topped birdhouse atop a post – of course it has a beautiful English Rose – “Abraham Darby” and clematis climbing up the post.

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Everyone needs a potting bench or area – no matter how small your garden is. This is a wonderful way to organize all of the things you have anyway. We found an antique industrial steel cart and used it as the potting bench. Antique corbels support a shelf to store and organize more garden goodies.

The gardeners were out in force the day of the garden tour – inspecting, photographing and taking copious notes. It is always rewarding and lots of fun to share ideas with other gardeners.  Hopefully you can find a few ideas to incorporate even in the smallest spaces!

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All My Best -