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The Elemental Garden – Designer Lori Scott

Nice home, great location; close to downtown Portland, but a difficult garden: a homeowner’s dilemma and a landscape designer’s delight. For over a year, Maury and Nancy Plumlee debated the pros and cons of leaving their lovely home or finding someone who was able to create a garden from their steep unappealing yard. They found Lori Scott with great ideas and a team of landscape professionals who could take Lori’s ideas and create a masterpiece.

In 2008 Nancy and Maury had many desires for their new landscape: a water feature, a gas fire pit, a flat lawn for dogs, and privacy. They also wanted to be free of the problems: crumbling awkward decks, persistent swampy beds, and a difficult slope. After spending time with Maury and Nancy so she could understand their desires and needs, Lori created a design that addressed these issues beautifully. Then Lori walked them through the process of selecting contractors and installing the design.

The new plan expanded and simplified the deck design, creating an outdoor room adjacent to the indoor kitchen, and access to the yard below. The patio is kept dry year around with a carefully engineered ceiling, that catches the rainwater and directs it over to the downspout.

Lori’s original design called for moderate-priced concrete pavers for the patio. Maury decided to upgrade to classic mortared bluestone in squares and rectangles. This patio, rock walls, gas fire pit, water feature and plantings were expertly installed by Kevin Schindler’s crew at Autumn Leaf Landscaping.

The backyard’s character is defined by the strong curve of the black steel and cedar pergola that enfolds the seating area, frames the water feature, and screens the uphill neighbors, while leaving room for the rain garden to collect water from the slope.

Nancy and Maury love their garden. It’s everything they asked for and yet they’re still tweaking it. That’s just what we do with living art. As it changes with time, we find new ways to use it and improve it.

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