We love solving problems, and it’s doubly exciting when we can create a beautiful garden in the process of addressing a major challenge. Here are just a couple of examples where we were able to accomplish more than one goal at a time.
Bethesda Garden I
A Garden Fed by Springs
In 2004, a long-time client asked us to design a garden for her and her husband on a one-acre suburban lot where they were building a new home. There was no existing garden as such, just an overgrown lot of invasive plants and a few trees and shrubs we wanted to re-use.
Situated on a spring-fed site just blocks from the heart of Bethesda, this garden has a stream running through the front yard, sun and shade, and a public and private face. In the front, major goals were to keep lines of sight to the street open and to rehabilitate a streambed that over the years had become choked with weeds and invasive plants. The biggest challenge for the entire site was choosing plants that can survive and thrive with the copious amounts of moisture in the soil, while meeting the owners’ desire to have informal, lush, “English-style” plantings throughout the property.
In 2009, this garden was honored with a Merit Award in an international landscape design competition sponsored by the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD), as well as awards from PLANET (Award of Merit) and the Landscape Contractors Association of Maryland, Virginia and the District (Grand Award).
Bethesda Garden II
Turning Challenge into Charm
We first met our clients when a home renovation project was almost complete. The front of the house had undergone a dramatic facelift with the addition of an extension of the façade and a deep covered porch, and the landscape needed major help. A range of disparate issues faced us: post-construction soil on the site, an existing bed of massive boulders near the new entrance walk, and a badly-eroded culvert area on the side of the property on county land. Existing plantings were badly damaged or overgrown. The most serious issue, though, was a massive drainage problem due to the site’s topography; in heavy rainstorms a river literally tumbled downhill past the front of the house, cutting a trench on either side of the walkway.
We turned the site’s challenges into its solutions to give the owners the beautiful garden they wanted. Using the line of the existing swale, we created a dry streambed to direct rainwater towards the existing culvert, which we also filled with river jacks and boulders. The streambed area is planted with plants that can withstand periodic flooding as well as occasional drought, and that provide seasonal color.
This garden won a Grand Award from the DC/MD/VA Landscape Contractors Association in 2007, as well as a 2007 Award of Distinction from the National Association of Landscape Professionals (formerly PLANET).
An Award-Winning Down-Sized Dream Garden
Created for a couple moving to a smaller house and lot in order to “down–size” after their children had left home, this garden’s design presented many challenges. The wife, an ardent gardener, had a long wish list: a water feature; speciﬁc plants (including a river birch, a gingko tree, oakleaf hydrangeas, plants to attract butterﬂies, and trilliums), fragrance, a small patio, and a potting shed. She also wanted to eliminate grass from any part of the property, and to have space to plant annuals (in containers and other areas). in short, she wanted a small “dream garden” created from a site that even she characterized as “disastrous-looking” at the outset.
The wife wanted pathways that would allow her to visit all parts of the garden. The patio space did not need to be sizable because of the high deck off the back of the house, but the views from the deck were important.
We accomplished all of the clients’ goals, and designed a series of small “garden rooms” in the backyard to create the illusion of a larger space. We also designed a “faux potting shed” front to screen the area under the deck and incorporated a raised planting bed for annuals and herbs, which was featured in an article in Fine Gardening magazine the following year as an inventive way to disguise an eyesore in the landscape.
This garden received an Award of Distinction in 2009 from the DC/MD/VA Landscape Contractors Association.
The “faux potting shed” we built to disguise the under-deck area.
It was featured in Fine Gardening magazine as a brilliant “disguise” for an eyesore.