When Kathy Langeliers purchased her new abode, a 1924 Sears catalog house, in the Woodstock neighborhood, the yard was the proverbial blank slate. A large, unkempt lawn on the east side of the house was populated by a lone maple in one corner. A narrow sliver of mud separated the house from the property line on the west side. The tiny front lawn felt like an after-thought. Behind the house the canopy of a graceful Chinese elm, Ulmus parvifolia, sheltered and shaded a commodious deck.
Kathy’s previous garden never felt “quite right”. Part of her discomfort was all the maintenance the lawn required. She didn’t like mowing, edging or the care and feeding of the grass. As part of her research and learning curve Kathy honed her vision for the new space going on garden tours, visiting open gardens and attending lectures on plants and design. A talk given by Lucy Hardiman of Perennial Partners about doing away with lawn was the “tipping point for her” and the beginning of a collaboration with Lucy and Susan LaTourette. Creating a garden without the distraction of turf grass meant less work, reduced reliance on water and chemicals, more space for plants, containers and art.
Curving gravel pathways trace the outlines of organically shaped raised island beds creating ideal growing conditions for plants demanding quick drainage. Low growing shrubs and ground covers hug the sides of the berms under planting dwarf conifers and hosts of shrubs. Surprises are tucked along the base of the beds—species iris, evergreen sedums, and Lewisia all flaunting bright flowers and textural foliage.
Her vision of a garden where a mélange of shifting foliage colors, textures and forms are interesting and acute year-round—a garden for all seasons and reasons—has come to fruition. Seasonal transitions are subtle, revealing secrets of the soil each day. She relies on a palette of needled and broadleafed evergreens as the structural bones punctuated by a collection of small trees. Two crepe myrtles, a stewartia, several maples and a witch hazel are strategically sited offering bloom, blazing fall color and interesting bark. Floral affects are part of the overall plan but foliage is the mainstay of the garden.
Midway through the garden a rustic gazebo beckons; a destination providing shelter from the sun or respite from the rain. Architectural detailing borrowed from the house imbue it with a Craftsman sensibility linking the two buildings. Daphne ‘Jim’s Pride’ anchors one side of the structure acting as a green wall. On the other side the luscious changeable foliage of Cryptomeria japonica elegans ‘Compacta’ assures privacy from the sidewalk and front garden.
Wire grids attached to cor-ten steel girders lining the property line on the west side are covered with evergreen vines creating a foliar screen. Holboellia coriacea, blue china vine, scrambles up the shady end of the structure while star jasmine, Trachelospernum jasmanoides, rambles skyward on the sunny section shielding the front porch and living room windows from the neighbors.