I think Jay sifford's successful last post has inspired a few more designers to send in photos of gardens they've designed for clients--I'm so glad! Especially when the gardens look like today's. Mary Bowe, a landscape designer in Richboro, Pennsylvania, sent these pics of a project she and her associates (at Gasper Landscape Design & Construction) designed recently. Mary says, "Our client came to us requesting a patio to extend their outdoor living space as well as a pathway and stairs to connect to a small patio on the side of the house for the in-law suite.
The site is semi-wooded with a mature oaks and hickories around the perimeter. A substantial change in grade exists from an existing deck on the back of the house to the in-law patio on the side, as well as an abrupt change in grade from the deck to the back of the property.
A retention basin which holds water through the entire year is located at the very bottom of the property. During early discussions we learned that this pond, although unseen from the house, was a favorite destination for the homeowners on their evening strolls.
We came back to the client with a design for the small curvilinear patio and woodland pathway they had requested but we also came to the meeting with a number of suggestions for taming some of the slopes which were becoming increasingly problematic and for creating and maximizing the unique views in the back yard.
Although not a part of the initial project program, it was impossible to ignore the existing pond and we wanted to make the most of this feature in the back yard landscape. Our solution was to make the most of the abrupt slope which actually hides the pond from view. We proposed that while in the process of "taming" the erosion-prone slopes left behind by the home's construction that we create a small "away room" for the garden visitor. This away room, or grotto as it came be known, is tucked in amongst boulder walls below the brow of the slope. Unseen from the house and patios, the grotto allows for a perfect view down into the pond and its new gazebo sitting area which floats above the water surface and is reached by a foot bridge.
Moss rock boulder walls were created along the slopes with pockets, shelves and crevices for planting. Plants installed in the crevices were selected for shade and drought tolerance, and were planted in a moisture retentive soil mix wrapped in an open weave landscape fabric. Over time many of the parent plants have seeded themselves into neighboring crevices or crept about by vines or stolon's to establish small colonies.
The grotto has also proven itself to be the best place for the outdoor summering of houseplants. Several heirloom needle point ivy's have rooted scions into the grotto where they have found a small micro-climate to keep their roots viable through the winter months." That grotto is pure enchantment, Mary! I want to BE there, like, right now!! Just dreamy. 

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