Joanne Diehl found her perfect home in Portland. I met her in the early spring. Her new home showed the results of careful attention to color, the interior was full of soft hues, contrasted with a deep red, a favorite color. Mostly Joanne felt there were no problems. She just wanted a colorful landscape. But we designers tend to see things differently. I get very excited about color or plants but I could see many problems that needed to be solved first. As Joanne and I talked, we made a tidy list of issues. Her view out of her kitchen and dining area was not attractive and not private. She was constantly catching AEC “accidental eye contact” from the neighborhood walkers while drinking her morning coffee.
The view out included the cyclone fence, a rough gravel parking area adjacent to the road, the neighbor’s lavender garage doors and the intersection. The house had no door to the back yard and it was dark due to the neighbors overgrown trees. She had a small porch off the kitchen opening to the front yard. She wanted to step out of her kitchen into the perfect summer patio. It would be for her and her new granddaughter so they could enjoy the flowers and each other. Joanne had faith from day one that we would make magic and together with Donna Burdick of D & J Landscape Contracting we did just that.
Joanne is “all gardener” and I confess I had to gently convince her to have some winter bones in the design. This front patio was also her curb appeal. She didn’t want to give up the summer floral explosion that is important to her. She is right to be concerned, doing too many evergreens can rob space for the full billow of summer color and flowers if one is not astute and adequate patio furnishings also. Her front yard was very small and it had a lot of big dreams to fulfill.
So here’s our list: Create private summer patio room. Make room for lots of flowers. Curb Appeal. Attractive from sitting area inside the house. Small, only 15 feet deep. Privacy from street and intersection. So yes we needed magic. And together we found plenty!
We saved one existing plant Seiryu Japanese maple, it created wonderful privacy. All the rest of the plants were new. Joanne and I designed her planting plan together.
We designed Spring of 2014. Her stone patio, new fencing, soil prep and plantings were installed that summer. I drove by the fall of 2015, a full year after her garden was installed. I was delighted to see how mature and colorful her garden looked and I left her a note that I had been there. Here’s her reply: “Sorry I missed you. You came by just before my big fall clean up. I read your last newsletter about pruning lavender in the fall. I got after my lavender which lead to all kinds of cleaning up. My new front garden is a great way to meet my new neighbors as they walk by and stop to chat. I’d like to say the garden is cheaper than therapy, but it is definitely therapeutic for me!”