Real Estate Transformations

TRANSFORMATIONS: Ravage to renaissance

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By Friday, Jul 14 More In Real Estate
Karen Shreefter
A landscape transformed, from neglect to new world.

I feel like a magician when working with clients to transform their landscape. We take Mother Nature, then move, shape, add, and voila! A new world appears.

First steps when meeting with a client about a project entails intuiting their goals, aesthetically (especially favorite colors and plants), practically (what type of maintenance will be involved) and financially (what’s the cost of creating and maintaining the project.) This all may sound obvious, but I find the more I ask, the more my clients and I both learn about the process and about how to achieve their goals. Our meetings yield untapped information and hence more ideas, whether I’m working with clients who tell me they have no design or artistic talent (I have found this never to be true) or with others who have artistic careers.

Recently, I worked with a couple in South County, of which the wife is an artist. They had recently purchased a beautiful property from other artists but, sadly, the gardens had been neglected, filled with invasive plants, and assorted stumps. Trees on the property were ragged and overgrown.

Clearing out the neglected gardens on the newly purchased property. Photo: Karen Shreefter

Clearing out the neglected gardens on the newly purchased property. Photo: Karen Shreefter

 

Photo 3

Old tree stumps had to be removed from the property. Photo: Karen Shreefter

While walking the property, they determined they wanted an area by the new screen porch to have colorful plants, herbs, and a few vegetables including cherry tomatoes. A large area was earmarked for a summer-long colorful display.

In the area of the front door, we decided to block the white and gray utility pipes with an evergreen cover up. Adjacent to the front door, a new a hot tub and firepit area needed something to make it feel like a cozy room. The fast-growing viburnum ‘Maresii’, fit the bill.

The viburnum ‘Maresii’ turns the hot tub and firepit area into a cozy room. Photo: Karen Shreefter

The viburnum ‘Maresii’ turns the hot tub and firepit area into a cozy room. Photo: Karen Shreefter

Luckily, we also discovered a large pile of beautiful boulders and rocks. I find boulders and rocks often greatly enhance landscape and garden designs.

I created visual design drafts of their property, with the proposed plants inserted in place. I always call this a draft because I assume there will be changes. Much to my delight, they loved it all, so we began work promptly. A contractor removed the stumps and invasives. We filled all the new beds with a compost and topsoil combination and with boulders and rocks.

The rock garden in front of the screen porch. Photo: Karen Shreefter

The rock garden in front of the screen porch. Photo: Karen Shreefter

We created a rock garden for the herbs, vegetables, and flowerbeds in front of the screen porch and filled it with thyme, basil, kale, cherry tomatoes, sweet alyssum, lavender and assorted sedums, and on the side we planted hydrangeas and a transplanted Alberta spruce.

In the large bed, we installed a large crabapple for spring color, rhododendrons for early summer, and hydrangeas and willows for a summer extravaganza that would last into fall. We planted assorted perennials and vinca as an evergreen groundcover to reduce weeding and to provide winter interest. A Japanese maple and a paper birch completed the frame.

Plantings in the large beds offer something different for every season. Photo: Karen Shreefter

Plantings in the large beds offer something different for every season. Photo: Karen Shreefter

The clients are kind enough to send me regular picture updates, which they post on Facebook. In one email, they wrote, “I can’t believe how lush our gardens grew this summer! Our biggest problem now is trimming it back!”


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