Out of the Wild: A Manicured Garden

Published on: February 4th, 2012

Three years ago, Becky Hammond, landscape architect at LID Landscapes in Boulder, was offered a challenge. Her clients wanted an upper patio in their backyard that would connect to a lower patio that surrounds their new swimming pool, which is flanked by a deep drop into the 100-year flood plain of Blue Bell Creek. A wrong move could damage the natural landscape below or could even bring the house down. The clients wanted the yard to meld with the riparian area and the natural beauty that almost envelopes the Chautauqua property, offering views of the Flatirons and the iconic auditorium. On the other hand, they also needed the landscape to meld with the formal Georgian-style house.

“We wanted a transition from formal to natural,” said Farzin, owner of the home, along with his wife Shirley. “We didn’t want to compromise the view. We wanted to work with it.”

Together, over a year, Hammond and the family worked to make their vision into a luscious, blossoming reality. The “harmonious connection between the formal and the natural areas” was accomplished by using quarried bluff flagstone to build dry stack walls. They created nine terraced planters, which are home to pale pink roses, to border a large staircase that connects the pool area to the upper patio. The stairs lead to a rock path that weaves down to a fence and to the creek, which is home to foxes, bears, deer and other wildlife.

In the upper yard, pines, flowers, shrubs, rocks and a water feature were styled much like a mountain stream; in fact, it’s often mistaken by visitors as a natural spring. There is a wadding pool—which Shirley dips her toes into on hot days—and a pair of waterfalls that give the yard a natural soundtrack, flowing along the western side of the yard.

“The beds are planted with xeric, deer-resistant shrubs and perennials, emphasizing the diverse colors and fruit of the foliage in each season and creating lush wildlife habitat,” Hammond said. “The water feature creek appears to cascade over the hillside into the creek below, but in reality it falls into a custom-built recirculation cistern hidden behind a wall of vegetation.”

The result: a garden that seems to naturally flow around the exterior of the home. Though it’s broken into segments, there is an easy transition from formal to natural, balancing hard and soft, and blending “hardscapes, deciduous and evergreen plants that tend to match the beautiful surroundings of the Boulder Flatirons,” Farzin said.

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