Gina and Regan Leon loved their Bethany home, but hated to spend time in their cramped back yard. Surrounded by tall houses, they felt like inhabitants of a fish bowl whenever they ventured into it. The entire garden was a bog. They sunk into the lawn even in high summer. The plants weren’t very happy and neither was she. After ten years of disappointment, Gina decided it was time to deal with the drainage and privacy issues. Looking for the best possible solutions, she contacted Joy Creek Nursery in Scappoose. Alyse Lansing, their staff designer, met Gina and Regan at their home to evaluate the garden and bounce ideas off of each other.
Gina and Alyse hit it off right away. Gina was pleased with how Alyse listened attentively throughout the interview process and then captured the spirit of Gina’s desires in her French inspired design. She also appreciated that Alyse spent a lot of time on the site overseeing the placement of boulders and plant material during the construction phase of the project. She felt comforted having an expert walking alongside her though the somewhat daunting process of a total garden renovation.
Alyse maximized the visual space in the small garden by terracing the patios across the diagonal axis. That allowed the eye to experience the space using the longest visual line. It also created interestingly shaped garden beds with plenty of room to mass shrubs. Tall narrow evergreen were combined with variegated shrubs and flowering perennials to create a sense of enclosure and mystery.
Alyse was able to repurpose at least half of the existing plants in the new design. Japanese snowbells, euonymus, hydrangeas, ornamental grasses, hostas, boxwood, clematis, astilbe, and ferns were all saved offsite and replanted when the site was ready. The old plants thrived in their newly formed beds once the soil was amended by rototilling garden mulch and quarter-ten gravel into the heavy clay. Drain pipes were also installed under the paved terraces to remove excess water from the site.
The sliding door on the house was replaced by lovely white French doors that invite guests to enter into another world. After seeing the updated front garden, visitors are eager to experience the new French garden. Most can’t believe it’s really the same space. “It’s now so inviting and relaxing”. Gina observed, “Coming out to sweep the patios and putter in the garden is now one of my delights, rather than a chore to be endured”. An alfresco breakfast or afternoon glass of wine, along with a wee bit of gardening is all a part of her new continental lifestyle.