Our Most Difficult Design – Ever
In The Garden – By Stephen and Kristin Pategas
At our home and office, we have a garden – actually, multiple garden areas: Front Formal Garden, Sunset Temple Terrace, Pollinator Garden, Edible Garden, Birdbath Fountain Garden, two border gardens, and a shade garden nestled under the mammoth, iconic magnolia tree. They
are completed except for the tweaking that gardens demand.
When we close our eyes, we dream about what our generously-sized and last remaining open space will become. At one time it was a separate 50-foot-wide lot that could have hosted an adjacent house. Thankfully, the previous owners of our home purchased the lot in the 1940s and now it is permanently part of our
property, but no longer suitably sized for a house.
Prior to moving into this house in 1999 we left behind a smaller house and yard. There we had purposefully eliminated all the grass and sold the lawnmower. In our new house we did not want its side yard lawn. Never irrigated, fertilized, or treated for pests or diseases, it has morphed into a mostly green patchwork quilt. The “lawn” will never win yard of the month. We can partially blame the recession for the delay in turning the area into intriguing gardens. However, we cannot solely blame economics – it’s our profession.
We are far from being the cobbler whose children had no shoes – we appear to have credible design capabilities and lovely gardens. The problem is that we know too much, and we’ve seen too many gardens in our travels. Many of these gardens added one or two design features to our “wish list.” From overseas travels and road trips with a van, we’ve also stockpiled a fair amount of ornaments to incorporate into a garden. So, the biggest challenge lies in deciding what to include and what to leave out. Following a visit to three outstanding California gardens with succulent plants (The Ruth Bancroft Garden, Lotusland, and Succulent Gardens) we were freshly motivated.
The latest plan we created shows a succulent garden that incorporates berms to improve drainage and add visual interest, unusual ornaments we have collected, and a petanque court (the French version of bocce). The copper Turkish kettle we had stored for years finally found its purpose – as the focal point of this garden. Now, by far, it is the largest planter on the property. It rests upon three carved stone turtles brought back from Lombok (Bali’s neighboring island to the east) more than a decade ago. Succulents flow over its rim and diminutive Firebird aloes fill a giant clam shell perched on the top. The next steps are the installation of the berms and an irrigation system. In our minds, we use the fourth dimension of time and see a future garden of succulents like the mature ones we recently strolled through.
Just like those of you fantasizing about your dream garden, we want it all and want it done right. It starts with inspiration and an idea. Now with ours in mind and on paper – we are launched.
Hortus Oasis (FL26000315) in Winter Park is a boutique garden design company specializing in residential, commercial and specialty gardens. Stephen is a registered landscape architect and Kristin is a certified landscape designer. Contact them at 407-622-4886 / firstname.lastname@example.org
All photography by Stephen G. Pategas/Hortus Oasisby