It's one thing to find and buy the perfect home. But when that home is complemented by a fabulous garden, success smells even sweeter. With the right design, landscaping can practically double a home's living area, especially during the Northwest's mild days and evenings
A well-landscaped home has beautiful spaces that range from functional (a place to put garbage cans, tools, the dog run and yard debris) to fanciful (a cutting garden filled with brilliant flowers or a courtyard enclosed in fragrance). Paths are wide enough for strolling or moving wheelbarrows. Vertical elements and hardscaping provide structure and link the home to the land. Healthy, well-cared-for plants fill the interstices, offering enticing views from the home's windows year-round.
When we went searching for available properties in the Portland area with glorious outdoor spaces, we found some great examples. Here are three.
The landscape surrounding a home in Vancouver, listed with Don Gladson of Coldwell Banker Barbara Sue Seal Properties, "began before the home was built," said retired landscape designer Andrew N. Rice. "It was an evolutionary process over about 20 years," as the three-quarter-acre garden on this 4-acre property changed and grew with changes to the home.
The 7,000-square-foot, three-bedroom home, built in 1976, is contemporary in style. It was expanded in 1990 to add a main-floor master suite and a hobby/shop area with an office. Asking price is $795,000.
A windowed hallway with nooks for artwork forms a walk-through gallery linking the old and new spaces. Through the windows, you can see gardens created specifically to be viewed from the gallery, with trickling waterfalls lined with primroses, a path and a small pool.
"The house features good separation between private space and public space," Rice said. "And the gardens for each space reflect that."
"The landscape developed in three primary phases, with a lot of smaller projects along the way," he added. "There are three major water elements: one that focuses the entry, a large watercourse that moves through the property and a ring of water and lighting in the entertaining area. The Larsens liked natural materials and sculptural elements, so none of the spaces are strictly architectural."
Plantings were chosen to provide visual interest year-round, said Rice, so they include not only spring and summer bloomers but also witch hazel, red-twig dogwood, hellebores and broadleaf evergreens for winter, and a fall symphony of grasses, Japanese maples, Joe Pye weed and viburnums.
Architect Mel Kroker (who also did the Old Spaghetti Factory) designed the Southwest Portland home that Maighread Gallagher and David McClanahan bought about four years ago. Kurisu International created its strolling garden with streamside paths, waterfalls and pools that evoke Portland's Japanese Garden (whose main waterfall Kurisu also designed and constructed). "We looked at the garden and we were overwhelmed with how beautiful it was," Gallagher said. "It's very peaceful, but it's also the best party place. The patio area is perfect for entertaining; everyone gathers by the waterfall and koi pond. It's hard to believe we're in the city."
With only the sound of water in the background, the setting is so calming it feels almost like a private park, Gallagher said. The bridge over the creek is a favorite spot for her children to read, and "everybody likes to sit up in the loft by the circular window, where you're surrounded by trees," she said.
The garden and home have twice been featured in Sunset magazine and Better Homes and Gardens Building Ideas, as well as other publications. Built in the mid-1970s, the four-bedroom, 2.5-bath home features full, hand-hewn trees as support beams, a remodeled kitchen with stone and tile surfaces, and large, dramatic windows.
"It would be hard to find a half-acre like this, with so much level living space so close to downtown," said Realtor Deborah DuFresne of RE/MAX Equity Group, who is the listing agent. "With a two-story waterfall, and all the trails, it feels like you're in the Japanese Garden. You'd never be able to build something like this now.
"The house itself is incredibly light, too, which is unusual for flat-roofed contemporary homes. With windows on five sides -- four verticals and part of the loft ceiling where the telescope is -- the house is just flooded with light."
Asking price is $725,000; a sale is pending
In Lake Oswego, landscape architect Craig Kiest of Huntington & Kiest created an elegant formal landscape to complement the formal French design of the Weil home, built in 1993.
"I wanted a garden with lots of different rooms," said Wendy Weil, who had the home and garden built in 1993 according to her design. "I like straight lines and a formal look, but I also wanted a cutting garden so I would have flowers to arrange in the house. There's a vegetable garden, too, because I wanted to make sure my children grew up knowing that food grows as plants -- I didn't want them to be total city kids."
Weil married her husband, Stephen, in 1998 on the estate's lawn. She said the landscape actually has evolved since then from a more woodsy look to the current, more formal landscape with boxwood hedges and symmetrical pathways. A favorite place of hers is the courtyard, surrounded by PeeGee hydrangea trees, which bloom in huge panicles of cream to dusky rose in September.
"You walk down the stairs, which is lined with uplighted pole maples, and it's like walking through a leafy tunnel," she said. "I just love all the different rooms in this garden, from the flower garden to the regulation croquet court. I used to do most of the care myself, but through the years we redid a section at a time and it is just stunning."
The five-bedroom, 5.5-bath home is listed with Kristi and Justin Harnish of Harnish Properties at Realty Trust Group for $1,999,000. A sale is pending.
Set on almost two acres in the Westridge neighborhood, the home offers not only fabulous outdoor spaces, said Justin Harnish, but also the perfect setting for indoor entertaining, with a chef's kitchen and beautiful formal dining room.
Portland free-lance writer Jan Behrs can be reached at Sunday Homes & Rentals, The Oregonian, 1320 S.W. Broadway, Portland, Ore. 97201.