Visitors seem to visibly relax when entering the natural, unpretentious NE Portland back yard of Linda Bebernes and Kate Gawf. The space, designed by Alyse Lansing in 2010, is now a peaceful refuge.
It wasn’t always so. For many years Bebernes, the gardener, tried to make it right by creating beds, amending and working the soil and planting trees. But problems remained: a broken, ugly concrete driveway, poor access to the front door, an unhealthy patch of lawn in the back, and overgrown shrubs that robbed both sun and space. The back yard living space still remained uninviting, and they didn’t know why.
So they called Lansing for professional help with ideas and solutions. Lansing listened carefully to the couple’s visions of a patio to entertain a few guests, a sitting area with sun in winter and cool shade in summer, a water
element to encourage birds and frogs, and a path to a secret garden. Something that caught Lansing’s attention was their desire for a covered porch, but they felt it impossible due to the architecture of the house.
After careful thought, Lansing developed the idea of a faux porch off the side of the garage. Her design improved circulation, enhanced views, and solved drainage issues. The porch fits seamlessly into the garden feeling as if it has always been there. This cozy space affords a vantage point for viewing the rest of the garden.
OTHER FEATURES TO LOOK FOR:
- Two curving patios overlap and have complimentary paving. The gravel and cobblestones provide an eco-friendly solution for good drainage and dry footing in all seasons.
- The dining terrace, under the canopy of a Japanese maple, has a comfortable proportion and scale. The homeowners say dinner conversations there are now both rich and lingering.
- The water bowl is filled with frog eggs every spring. Gawf loves to watch them mature and venture into the garden.
- Improved grading and surfacing at the back of the garage created a space for a utility area, including a potting bench.
- The sinuous recycled concrete wall, built of slabs from the demolition of the driveway, is another eco-friendly element.
- The stepping stone path meanders through a small grove of native maples leading to a private reading nook.
Joy Creek Nursery’s landscape construction crews installed the initial side and back yards in 2010. Andrew Babiracki of Terra Prima Gardens built the porch later in 2010. A new front driveway and walk was installed in 2013 based on Lansing’s early concepts. The front yard makeover was installed by Jaylene Walter Landscapes late last year. Now Bebernes and Gawf enjoy the public side of the garden with its new neighborly sitting area, sun-loving plants and edibles.
Last year Walter, Lansing and Bebernes worked together to complete the final piece of the back yard, a tiny, tucked-away reading nook.
The glass and cedar screens featured in the agrden are by Garden Art by James.
Photo: Alyse Lansing