this year, we have been working every wednesday at a beautiful garden house on the north side, where i have been gardening for four seasons…in fact, i was sold with the house three years ago. part of the package, i guess.
when i started there, i was working for leaf cantalon, as it was his mom’s house at the time. leaf is an amazing hardscaper. he uses bricks, stones, gravel, wood, even vintage manhole covers & reclaimed cement drainage pieces. really cool stuff. he’s obviously in high demand, but if you have a need for creative, functional gardenscaping, call him at 743-476-4484, and you might squeeze into his schedule.
this property is the kind that makes me so happy to be a gardener. when i can be adopted by such a place it is a wonderful thing–i am so often designing and installing brand new gardens, so to be so small among a towering smokebush or a handmade, hand-painted structure is an adventure.
a well-planned landscape has many rooms, and this one is no exception. you could have at least twelve separate dinner parties simultaneously and each one would be private. well, maybe five. but that’s still pretty great.
as you progress from the driveway, you have four paths to follow–through the woodshed, with newly-added red farmhouse porch swing…along the front sidewalk planted with an abundance of peonies backed by shrubs as a buffer from the local traffic-only street…down the railroad-ties & flagstone stairs to the mud room door (guarded by gus, the resident and oh-so handsome yellow lab) with a wrap-around patio to a wisteria- & grapevine-covered arbor housing a quaint breakfast nook–and i don’t use the word ‘quaint’ often–it is truly quaint…or down the wide steps past the grill terrace to the ahhhhh-inducing backyard.
once you’re immersed in the property, you will notice mallard ducks in the stream, the happiest bees in ann arbor buzzing in the lavender bed (nestled in pea gravel, it’s a little trip to the mediterranean.) a thyme-studded rock walkway circles the lavender, a low boxwood hedge, and the raised herb beds in a formal quadrant pattern. antique bricks to the right form a sunny patio–maybe i’ll just go ahead a call it a piazza–and to the left of the herbs (which are framed dramatically by an assortment of well-established shrubs) you walk through a rustic gazebo made from branches of trees found on the property to the hidden compost bins and pop out onto the lower level of the lawn, greeted by a cheery aqua-hued pair of adirondack chairs chosen by the homeowner.
crossing the yard, which is lush and drought-tolerant from years of organic gardening techniques, a glance to the right reveals the old postcard-worthy barn with wooden letters spelling ANN ARBOR across its roofline, underplanted with a shady garden featuring countless hostas and annuals for color. out the first floor sliding door is the zen-style garden with a japanese maple, tree peonies, deciduous azaleas, and weeping cherry tree sprouting from the gravel floor. the walls that encircle the area are weathered wood slats that hold an amazing climbing hydrangea and self-seeded morning glories.
overall, the property is a combination of traditional garden, modern craft, and simplistic beauty. mass plantings and specimen plants co-mingle among esthetic, practical hardscapes.