Location & Size:
Tucked off to the side of a cozy cul-de-sac, Betty’s new house would otherwise be lost. Like many homes in a development, each home is similar and each yard shoulders tightly to its neighbor. Comfortably sized and painted in the mellow blues of Pacific Northwest skies, the house seems content to fill its allotted space. Betty needed more for it to be her home. Her love of gardens is a long time passion and, for Betty, the life and beauty that emerges under her care is a source of joy. She needed such a space for herself. She needed a place to celebrate life.
Designer & Process:
It’s vital that the garden captivate the client, so the Gardens ALIVE Design process begins with an interview called the Introductory Consultation. The meeting is a conversation that seeks to reveal the client’s joys: color, shape, texture and size create a design path that reflects the client. Being an experienced gardener, Betty knew what plants she enjoyed and how to care for them, which made the process more efficient for the designer, Kirsten Lints, C.P.H. Betty was asked about her favorite colors (“pink – like it all”), her seasons of happiness (spring and fall), her level of knowledge (very experienced). Most importantly, she was asked what kind of emotional experience she wanted from her garden (peace!).
Special Features & Home Owner Requests:
Gardens ALIVE Design seeks to fulfill the client’s wishes, and a sense of welcoming peace was Betty’s wish for her garden. Betty appreciates the patient process of landscape improvements and the satisfaction that comes from seeing it flourish. She is a woman of inner joy who delights in color; Betty makes arrangements from cuttings of the flowers that she grows. Filled with colorful blooms and vibrant greens, a garden would make what was already a comfortable home into a haven of color.
To create an experience of gentle invitation, the color palette is muted like a mellow jazz trumpet that offers tones of soothed fascination. It is a garden filled by rich, velvety colors that visually calm, bold in a way that has presence rather than boisterous brightness. It‘s a feeling drawn through the garden’s compositional design: gentle undulations of space populated by clusters of color comfortable with their own subtle strength. Fluidity of form moves the eye across the gardenscape slowly, tumbling like water over smooth stone. In the spring, the garden blooms in bursts of rich wine, fuchsia, sassy pinks and sunshine yellow. In autumn, the flowers give way to bouquets of bronze, burnished yellows, frosted greens and lingering, luscious purples. This is a garden not of brash noise and distraction, but a sanctuary in which to be enfolded.
Space is limited; at less than 1000 square feet of gardening space, even the smallest splash of detail can be a vital part of the composition. Within such confined space, the activity of the garden becomes even more intimate. Curved contours erase all traces of edges. Round forms fill the space to human height, engulfing the senses. Betty loves her garden, tending each plant for the duration of its season; in return, the garden embraces her in its fullness.
Details & Installation Team:
Good design also provides solutions to problems. Limited space can be a problem of competing interests. In this case, the architecture of the yard includes a drainage system that intersects the path to the backyard gate. Mulch installed for the garden would clog the drain and the pathway would become unpleasantly muddy. Because the principles of the design were already established, the solution would need to work into the overall look and feel of the space. By constraining creative problems, however, beautiful solutions emerge. For this garden, the answer came in the form of stone-scaping, provided by Liberty Landscapes.
Uh – Oh Moment:
To make the path to the garden a walkway free of mud and mulch, the landscapers used flagstone to create a curved path. The flagstone’s irregular, rounded shapes fit with the visual design elements established by the garden, as does the curve traced by the path itself. Around the drain, the level of the path has been shaped with risers in order to direct water flow. The two flagstone pathways continue the rounded contouring of the garden to the east and west sides of the house. Sparkling with mineral metallics, the flagstone offers a silvery base to the jewel-rich color of the surrounding plant-life. By directing traffic, reducing surface water flow and retaining mulch, the drain is kept clear and useful backyard access is incorporated into the visual design.
Betty’s garden has become something more than a collection of beautiful plants. Through Garden’s ALIVE Design’s process, the space is a reflection of Betty herself. Her love, her warmth, and her joy of life are present in every part. Artistic landscape design has helped create an environment of peace where a very kind woman can nurture the life she loves and be replenished in return.