This summer we’ve been enjoying little moments of tranquility shared from our staff and board. This week we decided to highlight an incredible project coming to fruition in our Board Chair’s backyard… plus stick around until the end for 5 more people who are discovering their own little oasis.
The following blog post was written by Linda Boyd in response to our #tranquility prompt.
Before we jump in, here’s just a bit of a backstory. My husband Brian and I were high school classmates – buddies but never dated back in the day. We reconnected a lifetime later – on December 26, 2011. We have been a happy couple ever since, we got married June 11, 2017.
We bought this house in the summer of July 2013. At the time, the backyard landscaping consisted of a small landing and simple wooden staircase down to the back yard, and a big stretch of lawn. The first big backyard project was spring of 2017, Brian built that incredible deck – designed and constructed the whole thing almost entirely by himself.
He got it finished just days before everyone arrived for the wedding, the first “load testing” was the night before our wedding ha.
Phase #2 was during the following summer – the large curved raised berm for flowers/tree/shrubs bordered by large boulders, the patio, low-voltage lighting, and fountain no. 1. We hired a landscaping firm to do this part, it was a bit beyond the “one guy with a hammer and a shovel” capability.
Brian had in mind exactly what he wanted, he was inspired by the outdoor patio at Cork & Cleaver. He sketched it out for the landscape company – we also purchased our outdoor furniture and fire pit table there. I was happy to let this all be his vision (I would weigh in on details and give my opinion), as long as I had lots of places to plant my flowers.
Phase #3 was last summer. He hand-dug and installed a pond (the one in the foreground of the pictures), and also a smaller patio for the new flattop grill ha. All of the digging likely contributed to his detached retina, which took him to Minneapolis for immediate surgery. He had to keep his head down for quite a while and hold off on any sort of lifting/exercise, so that was pretty much the end of last year’s projects. The pond has a nice sized berm around it (and ties in nicely to the larger berm), so I was able to fill that up with perennials too – which all came up like gangbusters this year, yay! We also had a friend help us put up bistro lights over the patio and on the upper deck last year.
Phase #4 is in the finishing stages this summer. After he built a nice block-constructed herb garden for me on the side of the house, he and the neighbor hand-dug a massive Pond Number 2 on the opposite side of the large berm. Unlike the smaller pond which has a purchased pre-shaped plastic liner (covered by rock), this one is a free-form, sculptural water feature. It almost looks like something you would see in a fancy hotel lobby – a BIG one.
It is completely covered front and back with horizontal slate tile, with a stair-step design. We also incorporated glass block that was salvaged from his parents’ old house. It is lined with large rocks, and will feature cascading water over the walls and over slate and glass elements. I should have said by now that Brian is a civil engineer and water park/pool designer by profession.
This big fountain is absolutely a design collaboration by the two of us. He had the general idea, I chimed in that it should be “sculptural,” and we sketched it out and picked out materials together. Once son-in-law Bhairav arrived from India in mid June, work proceeded much more quickly ha. Brian will move some of the fish from the small pond into the big pond so they can grow nice and big.
Yes, there are more phases to come, I think Brian is miserable if he isn’t bustling over some ambitious project or other. But it has been an absolute joy every single day. We eat dinner outside literally every evening – I think rain has only driven us inside a couple times since June. I have had so much fun gardening – mixing perennials and annuals, moving things around, trying a couple new plants every year. (I also have a couple smaller flower beds in the front yard). I am not a master gardener by any stretch, I pretty much go by the poke and hope method.
Granddaughter Zoya, who just turned 17 months, spends every morning outside with me for at least an hour. She now has a little playhouse and inflatable pool in the back yard, and is learning the names of all the flowers. For several weeks, every day started with “Hi Joe Pye! Hi Bee Balm! Hi Lilies!” and so on. I just could not be happier, and I look forward to all the future phases to come.
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Thanks so much for reading!
Share your own little moments by using the hashtag #oasis on social media and tagging The Arts Partnership.
Get inspired by watching our recent live stream on Facebook to learn flower arranging with TAP CEO Dayna Del Val and MS Simplicity, Melissa Schmalenberger.