Gina and Regan Leon loved their Bethany home, but hated to spend time in their cramped back yard. Surrounded by tall houses, they felt like inhabitants of a fish bowl whenever they ventured into it. The entire garden was a bog. They sunk into the lawn even in high summer. The plants weren't very happy and neither was she. After ten years of disappointment, Gina decided it was time to deal with the drainage and privacy issues. Looking for the best possible solutions, she contacted Joy Creek Nursery in Scappoose. Alyse Lansing, their staff designer, met Gina and Regan at their home to evaluate the garden and bounce ideas off of each other.
Gina and Alyse hit it off right away. Gina was pleased with how Alyse listened attentively throughout the interview process and then captured the spirit of Gina's desires in her French inspired design. She also appreciated that Alyse spent a lot of time on the site overseeing the placement of boulders and plant material during the construction phase of the project. She felt comforted having an expert walking alongside her though the somewhat daunting process of a total garden renovation.
Alyse maximized the visual space in the small garden by terracing the patios across the diagonal axis. That allowed the eye to experience the space using the longest visual line. It also created interestingly shaped garden beds with plenty of room to mass shrubs. Tall narrow evergreen were combined with variegated shrubs and flowering perennials to create a sense of enclosure and mystery.
Alyse was able to repurpose at least half of the existing plants in the new design. Japanese snowbells, euonymus, hydrangeas, ornamental grasses, hostas, boxwood, clematis, astilbe, and ferns were all saved offsite and replanted when the site was ready. The old plants thrived in their newly formed beds once the soil was amended by rototilling garden mulch and quarter-ten gravel into the heavy clay. Drain pipes were also installed under the paved terraces to remove excess water from the site.
The sliding door on the house was replaced by lovely white French doors that invite guests to enter into another world. After seeing the updated front garden, visitors are eager to experience the new French garden. Most can't believe it's really the same space. "It's now so inviting and relaxing". Gina observed, "Coming out to sweep the patios and putter in the garden is now one of my delights, rather than a chore to be endured". An alfresco breakfast or afternoon glass of wine, along with a wee bit of gardening is all a part of her new continental lifestyle.
Jennifer Ellsworth and Victoria Shaw are the featured artists in the Leon Garden. Read their statements below.
Recycling and repurposing materials has always been a huge part of my life. I want to bring awareness to the public by displaying gorgeous sculptures demonstrating this practice.
I started creating sculptures in 2006 when I opened up my first business in metal fabrication. I created both functional and artistic structures and sculptures. This has led to displaying in galleries, having sculptures in public settings, and working one on one creating customized orders.
As a recycled metal artist I pride myself on using found objects mostly as they are. What people don't realize is if you start out with a recycled item and then spend a ton of time and energy trying to create what you want it to be instead of letting it be mostly itself, you area really defeating the purpose of recycled art.
Victoria Shaw's handbuilt and thrown stoneware sculpture references human forms, nature, and spirit. Her work derives inspiration from "the still, small voice within," and often her sculptures speak about a collective spiritual vision.
The human scale of her series "Totemic Dreams" reminds the viewer of guardian figures and ancient ancestral markers. Round orb forms like those found in nature rest easily upon discs. The pieces are stacked on a vertical or horizontal orientation allowing the artist "to play with form in space." The totems are symbolic of a journey that begins grounded on the earth while reaching toward the sky.
Often chosen by interior and landscape designers, the sculptures are suitable for intimate locations in private homes and gardens as well as decorative accents in hotels, restaurants, law offices, apartment buildings, and other commercial settings. The vitrified stoneware, like natural rock, can withstand all of nature's challenges. The work is simple in line, and the viewer is engaged by the dynamism of form, making them a welcome addition to any venue.