live from Minneapolis…

May 30, 2009

I really love creating outdoor spaces- and the crew at Phillips Garden is a great collective of talent putting out a tremendous effort in design and installation.  This project in Minneapolis is still less than a year old.  We planted the perennials yesterday.  Most of the hardscaping and bed work was done last fall.  We took a very tiny backyard and gave it a clean and modern look.  In doing so, we created an intimate set of outdoor rooms that became a natural, private extension of the house.  We used lumacite panels in the fence to keep as much natural light as possible and to create an interesting play with shadows.  We built a deck out of ipe wood to establish a smooth transition form garage to house- the place with the most traffic- this is the center of the axis- what I like to call “the rotary”- you can split off into five directions from there.

The brick walls held three terraces of garden that had been neglected- and it’s easy to see why.  The steps leading up through the tiers were narrow and steep and once you were up there- it was hot and dry- not a place you’d like to hang out.  We decided to close the steps and clad the two lower walls in steel.  This would lessen the shadow and texture created by the deep-set brick, (which there was plenty of on the house and garage), and add a smoothness and calmness to that area.  We extended the lumacite fence in front of the third wall to give the impression that the third terrace wasn’t there.  This visually kept the rise of land lower- which took away the feeling that the neighboring property was looming overhead.  Below the terraces, we removed a large round concrete patio and made a lawn.

Between the deck and the tiered garden with lawn, we created a bosque of four Merrill Magnolias with an offset gravel path leading through them.  This creates a great transitional space that is shady and cool and underplanted with Epimedium, Pulmonaria, Polemonium, dwarf Aruncus and Hosta ‘June’.

The tiered gardens became a gallery for a dwarf Gingko, a Schoodic Pine, and an array of Sedums, Armerias and many more low rock garden plants that will remain low and moundy.  There are a few grasses and the owners’ Egyptian Onions which actually look really cool against the rusting steel.

The clients have this incredible grill and smoker that we loved (and they love and use all the time).  We made a special space for it and I think it goes well with the landscape.  Enjoy the photos- we had a great time bringing this project to fruition.  I hope you get some ideas!

One Response to “live from Minneapolis…”

  1. theharmonywheel Says:

    Your garden spaces are amazing. Your wording and the photos give me the chance to picture myself sitting in one of them. Love the name of your blog too.
    Feel free to visit my blog at theharmonywheel.wordpress.com


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