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The Meihoff Garden – Designer Donna Giguere

Donna Giguere provided a complete redesign of our property (hardscape and plantings), helped us find a landscape contractor, and assured proper installation in both the front and back yards. We live in a 110-year-old house in the inner city of Portland. Donna’s design struck the right balance between a clean, modern look that still complements the historic architecture of our home and neighborhood. Our contractor, Patrick Handley was very skilled at working with a variety of materials used to create this garden.

One of the major problems was that we often could not find street parking near our house. We are avid bicyclists and own one car. We needed to carve out a parking space in our 38 foot wide lot that met the city setback and looked nice. The parking space created a steep slope that required retaining walls and rainwater mitigation but it looks great. We also added a ramped path for the ease of moving bicycles and trash cans.

In the backyard there were 2 trees, dead sod, and a dilapidated deck. That was it. A place to BBQ, dine and relax was desired. The new deck provides a cooking space. The patio addresses dining and relaxing by the fire-pit. The large gas fire-pit, centered on the kitchen doors, may also be viewed from the kitchen. A gravel space is for relaxing in the hammock under the great magnolia tree. A Mondo grass lawn provides a cool place for the dog to sprawl.

Some features of our new landscape are all of the rainwater is handled on-site through the employment of a rain garden swale, drywells and a permeable paver parking space. There is no lawn and the plantings are low in maintenance. This garden clearly displays how much versatility can be created in a small space.

The style of the garden in the front yard is a fusion of Modern and Craftsman. A bio-swale, the absence of lawn, the simple planting style and plant selections are a considered Modern element. The dyed and molded concrete walls and acid etched concrete steps are reminiscent of an older time to meet the style of the 1908 home.

In the backyard most of the garden elements are clean and geometric evoking a Modern Style. Rustic elements do intersect though as seen in the rough stone corner of the fire-pit and the Craftsman Style gate. The deck, created of 100% Timbertech PVC with cedar flows into the yard. The deck has multi-purpose platforms that can be used for seating, pots or for serving. The very old large trees (sycamore maple & saucer magnolia) and the borrowed view of the brick condos neighboring the garden add a sense of history.

We like that our garden has year-round beauty with leaf color and textural variations to create interest. For ease of maintenance, perennials are at a minimum.

This is a garden for serenity. Small grasses are a favorite. We appreciate anything that flowers in the winter such as the Camellia sasanqua ‘Shi-Shi Gashira’espaliered against the back fence. A few blueberry bushes and evergreen huckleberries provide some nibbles. With the tall close-set homes and large trees there is not much sun in this garden. Beside the front porch there is enough sun for a small vegetable garden. Notice the “lawn” in the front parking strip of Leptinella squalida (brass buttons). This works well as long as it is confined.

We are truly happy with our new space and love to relax and entertain there. I have recommended Donna to admiring neighbors and friends and will continue to do so.

Photographer: Donna Giguere

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