People have spent more time at home, most likely surrounded by plants, to stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic. Not surprisingly, they felt better when they nurtured a flower in a pot or a small patch of ground cover.
Many people expanded their living space outdoors, to dine under the stars, read in a quiet corner of the yard and let the kids and dogs romp freely.
Gardening grew into a bigger hobby over the last two years, attracting more people who felt the joy of being outside, growing vegetables for home-cooked meals and helping greenery of all types thrive.
Horticultural therapists study the stress-relieving and healing benefits of being exposed to “green medicine,” the simple act of resting under a shady tree, feeling calmed by the sound of a water fountain and taking in the fragrant scent of lilacs and roses.
Try it out for yourself. Here’s one way: The 2021 Portland Landscape Architecture + Design Tour will showcase 10 private outdoor spaces and gardens, from robust to formal, throughout the Portland area on Saturday, Sept. 18.
Ticket holders ($30 or two for $50) will meet landscape designers and builders ready to answer questions about creating a curbside impression with classical to contemporary elements in the front yard, or an inviting al fresco dining area or efficient kitchen next to the barbecue in the backyard.
If you’re considering upgrading your open-to-the-sky oasis, you’ll see attractive concrete retaining walls and walkways as well as fences, fire pits and water features installed by local companies.
Side yards and parking strips get the designer treatment too. Learn which plants are chosen by experts to enhance a home’s architectural style and match specific bio-climates.
Are you searching for an entertaining add-on to your backyard? Don’t miss seeing a weatherproof movie screen, 60-foot-long putting green and well-placed landscape lighting that provides year-round enjoyment.
Tickets to the in-person tour are limited. For more information, visit mads.media/2021-portland-landscape-architecture-design-tour.
Here are highlights of the 10 stops on the self-driving, self-paced 2021 Portland Landscape Architecture + Design Tour:
A pollinator’s garden: A modern English garden by Casa Smith Designs with pathway pavers laid in a herringbone pattern met the owners’ goals of highlighting the view from their property in Lake Oswego’s Lake View-Summit while keeping landscaping upkeep to a minimum.
Half of the lawn was replaced by Aspen Creek Landscaping with drought-tolerant and flowering plants that attract birds, bees and butterflies. The large fountain is a convenient water source for the pollinators and adds a soothing sound, said Catherine Smith of Casa Smith Designs.
The style of the outdoor entertaining space was modeled after the home’s architecture to ensure a consistent look.
Don’t miss: Existing steppingstones and boulders from a pond on the property were put to use in the new landscape to save money and resources.
Tiered backyard with putting green: GRO Outdoor Living designed a front yard and three distinctive terraces in the backyard of a Northwest modern house offered by Merritt Homes in Camas’ Dawson’s Ridge.
Private backyard paces are dedicated to a family area with broad curving lawn lines, an entertainment area with a paver patio and fire pit, plus a putting green that spans 60 feet.
Don’t miss: The barbecue grill embedded in a stone-face counter under the covered patio.
Lawn replacement: A 1940s house in North Portland’s University Park is surrounded by a landscape influenced by Mediterranean and Scandinavian spaces as designed by Bethany Rydmark Landscapes and constructed by Raúl González.
The front yard is a no-mow, pollinator-friendly native meadow and in the backyard is a hornbeam-lined dining terrace with a grill and pizza oven close to raised beds of herbs and vegetables.
“The best gardens continue to shift and grow under the watchful eye of caring owners and this space is an ever-evolving gem,” said Rydmark.
Don’t miss: The smokeless fire pit, play garden and fort-like swing set near the eco-lawn.
Once asphalt and weeds: Fusion Landscape Design focused on structured bedlines, dimensional hardscape and borrowed views from an adjacent city park to highlight a 1940s brick house in Northeast Portland’s Concordia neighborhood.
Diamond Landscape design and construction company built a steel-frame and wood structure to cover a modern dining table by Chris Liljenberg Halstrøm for Design Within Reach, and a horizontal cedar fence is the backdrop to a pleached Carpinus hedge underplanted with sweetly scented Lavandula ‘Pastor’s Pride.’
Plantings and grasses are drought-tolerant, including Arctostaphylos ‘Louis Edmunds,’ a durable upright manzanita.
Don’t miss: A concrete fire pit is surrounded by Lollygagger chairs made of recycled plastic into a modern take on the ubiquitous Adirondack. Search for the integrated bottle opener hidden under the chair’s right arm.
Bleak becomes beautiful: An Asian-inspired retreat in Happy Valley designed by 4 Season Gardens has a restful courtyard in the front garden. In the back, a gravel path leads to a tranquil sitting area and water feature.
Layered plant combinations, from ornamental grasses to hydrangeas, were selected to show off a variety of colors, textures and forms.
Don’t miss: The inviting “Garden” sign on the wood gate door.
Cabana of cross-laminated timber: A 1920s Prairie-style house in Northeast Portland’s King neighborhood was redesigned by Lever Architecture to draw in natural light and frame the captivating views.
A 300-square-foot wood cabana opens to the upgraded landscaped yard planned by Lango Hansen Landscape Architects and executed by Forest Landscape and Nursery.
Don’t miss: Take a close look at the pavilion-like structure made from locally sourced panels of cross-laminated timber (CLT) attached to glulam columns and beams.
Hilltop garden: A French-English country garden on Bull Mountain outside by Tigard was designed by Bethany Rydmark Landscapes to have espaliered pear trees, and a mix of roses and fire-wise perennial plants that produce little or no woody growth.
Autumn Leaf Landscaping removed a wood-chip play area in the backyard to create a formal lawn with a cast-stone fountain from Giannini Garden Ornaments.
In the front, an old exposed aggregate pathway made way for acid-washed concrete steps and piers.
Don’t miss: The side yard space was designed for the resident beagles.
Italianate modern style on a corner lot: A series of garden rooms to showcase sculptural art were designed by Olivine Land for a residential property in Northeast Portland’s Rose City Park neighborhood.
There are spaces built by Urban Green Landscape Construction for entertaining and family gatherings, including benches around a fire feature and a shade-providing outdoor movie screen.
An Italian-style fountain came from Versailles Gardens of Portland, and a deck and trellis structure were designed by Metropolitan Design Studio+Architecture and built by Tim Egan.
The narrow south side yard is a highly useful pathway that makes it easy to haul garbage cans to the curb, walk bikes to the shed and access the basement.
A wide parking strip is planted with pink flowering Akebono cherry trees and low flowering evergreen shrubs in fire-wise gravel mulch.
The family enjoyed all the unique aspects of their outdoor living spaces while staying home during the pandemic, said Marina Wynton of Olivine Land.
Don’t miss: The storage shed with a sliding barn door and a succulent-laden roof.
Read more about the ongoing collaboration between landscape designer Marina Wynton, landscape contractor Eric Schmidling, building contractor Eric Eaton and the homeowners
“Zen Dry Garden”: A modern house in Northeast Portland’s Beaumont-Wilshire neighborhood has a Southwest desert landscape designed by Garden Stories.
Yuccas, agaves and a specimen Waggy palm thrive in an intentionally spare environment that includes buff-colored aggregate and privacy-providing cedar screens like those seen at the Portland Japanese Garden’s Cultural Crossing Village.
“The homeowner was influenced by the Zen minimalism of the Portland Japanese Garden,” said James Wilson of Garden Stories. “The cedar screens were a very important part of the design, adding privacy and visual interest, while still remaining open to the neighborhood.”
Drought- and fire-resistant landscape: Landscape architect Connie Migliazzo of Prato has native and hardy plants, ornamental grasses and oaks on her almost half acre property in Multnomah Village that are prepared to survive heat, cold and climate change.
A curvy, midcentury modern-style pool that seems pulled from a “Mad Men” scene is a centerpiece of the terraced yard supported by concrete retaining walls.
Explore until you discover the dining area hidden among evergreen magnolia trees with scented flowers.
Don’t miss: A cool collection of cold-hardy succulents and cacti near the pool’s ipe wood deck.
— Janet Eastman | 503-294-4072