Patio photo by David P. Best
Photo by David P. Best

When searching for a home in the Portland area, David Best was drawn to the city lifestyle. He wanted to live "close-in" but not in an urban high-rise. He came armed with a list of requirements: Arts and Crafts bungalow, on Portland's East side, a corner lot, garage on an alley behind the house, full unfinished basement, and a house he could improve and make his own. David found his home in a shady neighborhood in North Portland, and the property presented the opportunity to transform the non-descript yard into something special and unique.

David asked a longtime Portlander and trusted friend to recommend some landscape designers for his project. After interviewing four designers, David chose Barbara Hilty, APLD of Barbara Hilty Landscape Design LLC. David said "Barbara was excellent at hearing what I wanted, and quickly tuned in to my own design esthetic." Working together in an iterative process, Barb came up with a design that met David's goals of a contemporary interpretation of a Japanese garden that would be harmonious with, but also enliven the Arts & Crafts architectural elements of the house. David remarks that "Barb was terrific – she embraced the collaborative effort in a way that made the process really fun, and produced results that exceeded all my expectations."

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As a woodworker, designer, and photographer, David combined his artist's eye and professional skills with Barbara and his landscape contractor, David West of Structures in Landscape, to design and fabricate the unique fences, arbors, and other wood and metal details that are featured in this dramatic landscape. The result is both unique and highly praised.

Initially, David had a goal of a "low maintenance" garden, but as the project scope evolved and all his plant selection desires were attained, the garden required more on-going maintenance than he wanted to perform personally. His passion was to spend time in his woodworking shop, not weeding and pruning. David decided to deal with the maintenance issue in two ways: rethink the plantings, and find an excellent landscape gardener. Barbara was not available at that time to help in revising the plantings, so with Barb's concurrence, David contacted Adriana Berry APLD, of Plant Passion Design LLC - another ANLD designer with a reputation for unique plant knowledge. Adriana opened David's eyes to many different plant ideas with a strong focus on color and architectural shapes. To satisfy the ongoing maintenance needs, David also hired ANLD member, Courtney Downing of Green Artisans to maintain his garden, and he has been thrilled with her sensitivity and responsiveness in maintaining the gardens.

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David's favorite spot in the garden changes with the seasons. In the summer months he loves to entertain in the rear garden dining area under the pergola. The wetter months find him on his front porch, relaxing at the end of the day in the bench swing, interacting with passers by, exchanging greetings, and discussing the garden details with the many people who stop to inquire and offer praise.