The Luria Garden

aug-26-025I do have clients who are hands on; Dr. Luria is one of those.  I designed his landscape, and gardens, and I have planted a few of the bigger evergreens for him-but by and large, he has done this work himself. I can relate to that gardener that really does like the dirt. The perennial garden sits on top of a low elliptical wall, which strongly borders the space while the garden is dormant.   

aug-26-024lI tried very hard to dissuade him from having a perennial garden in his front yard, but working against me was  how the house sits on the property.  This neighborhood has large common areas that all the homeowners share.  Thus most of his property, and almost all of his sun is in the front yard.  I need not have worried.  This garden is better than well looked after.  It is the jewel of the neighborhood.

A dwarf conifer garden lines the walk to the front door from the drive.  These evergreens in different shapes and textures and colors  have grown in beautifully over the years. Along with the douglas fir in the lawn, and the yews near the front door, the dwarf conifers see to providing visual interest during the winter months. A pair of dwarf magnolias are a welcome shift of texture from the evergreen needles.  The side yard is dominated by groups of Limelight hydrangeas, fringed in boxwood.  The white flowers read strongly from the street; they look inviting.   

aug-26-011In the back yard, The woodland common property is faced down with a mix of shade perennials. This greatly helps to expand the visual space of the rear yard. I suspect he takes care of the woodlot as well.  A round terrace/deck is notable for its beautiful iron railings.  What I dislike about decks the most is what I see underneath them;  I rarely see a surface treatment I find attractive.  The undersides of decks also tend to accumulate tools, hoses, toys and the like. This deck has the illusion of being solid to the ground; the vertical wood planks add so much color and texture to this small garden.  The stairs hug the deck radius,  and spill out onto a second terrace,  finished simply in gravel contained by black aluminum edger strip.  The blue furniture looks great.

aug-26-0221I so enjoy the gardens my clients make for themselves.  Never would it occur to me to plant a cactus garden in an iron birdbath.  Does this not look swell?  I like everything about this small spot in his garden-the color, the textures-and most of all, the presence and personality of the head gardener.

luria12Dr. Luria has been making things grow his whole life, and it shows.  The plants are robustly happy and lush; how they look says everything about how much time he spends here. Though I am sure there are days he wonders what he took on here, the state of the garden gives no hint of that. Well grown plants are so much a part of what makes a garden beautiful.

luria30He also does a beautiful job of adding annuals to his perennial mix.  Any day you go by, something interesting is going on.  In any given year, the annuals he fancies can change the complexion of the entire garden.  It looks new and fresh every year.  He may consult with me about this or that, but he makes the decisions.

He likes plants, and he likes color, but how he mixes and matches works.  The garden is graceful, relaxed, and profuse.  I know how much work it is to keep that wild look just this side of chaos.  He clearly does not fear the work of it.  In fact, the entire gardens looks like he enjoys it. 

This garden is truly lovely; he is the driving force behind all you’ve seen here.  He should be very proud of it, should he not?

Belgian Hurdle Fencing

aug-13-097Wattle, or hurdle fencing is a traditional garden or livestock enclosure made from either willow or hazelwood. Last week we took delivery of a forty foot long container of Belgian made fencing. Though I am making a point of shopping my own country, I am especially attracted to Belgian garden ornament.   Rob says the Belgian climate and topography is a lot like the Midwest.  My most favorite landscape photographer Lynn Geesamon has photographed all over the world.  Her images of Belgium so strongly resonate with me, as I do think they remind me of my native landscape. Some of her images can be seen at

aug-13-095A garden ornament does need to look like it belongs to the garden in which it is placed. It takes some doing to bring these twig structures from their place to mine, but it is worth it.  They are heavy, chunky and sturdy-and beautifully constructed.  Each five by six foot panel weighs 100 pounds-substantial.  We buy peeled cedar fence poles from a company in the upper peninsula of Michigan.  This material has a very local feel.

These panels are made of hazelwood branches with the bark intact.  This makes  a very long-lived and weather resistant panel.  This natural material is friendly to climbing plants.  There are plenty of places vines to get a foothold.  They are such a great backdrop to any green living thing.  The twig brown color compliments any planting scheme.

aug-13-0771The woven branches have a great texture, and cast good shadows. The surface is lively and warm.  Burt told Rob he sold Italian shoes for 25 years, before opening his twig panel business. It is easy for me to see why he would do this; it must give him great satisfaction to be making objects that celebrate the beauty of the natural world.   Rhododendron root furniture, log furniture, twig trellissing-all of these things have a primeval appeal.

They are dense enough to provide great screening.  Some places that require screening do not have room for plants;  these panels have a very slight profile .  I imagine they would look great installed between a pair, or a run of trees. 


The twig boxes they make are down to earth charming.  I usually line them with a galvanized sheet metal liner for longevity.  They would dress down an ivy topiary, or dress up a planting of geraniums and strawberries.

aug-22-031Positioned with the twigs in the vertical, the panels have a different quality about them-more sculptural and sinuous. I had a client tell me she loves the beauty of ordinary materials. Things people make of ordinary materials can be anything but ordinary.  A material like this is just waiting for an inspired placement. 


The little panels would make great edging for an herb garden.  Four panels lashed together would make a box fit for  a giant rosemary, or 4 eggplants.  They would be great for keeping my corgis out of a treasured planting. This work reminds me that there are so many natural materials around me that could be put to use or ornament in my garden.  I have only to see them.  Seeing the beauty in ordinary things-I am thinking about this today.