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From dinky lawn to alpine meadow.

"Nature paints in swaths of one plant, then another, and puts smidgens of them somewhere else," says landscape architect John Herbst. He followed that observation to create the look of an alpine meadow when remodeling the front of his house in Lake Oswego, Oregon.

In the sloping garden, he planted bands of ground covers and compact, low-growing shrubs accented with boulders, then punctuated the rolling, low masses with taller shrubs and trees. The result is a gentle garden with subtle textures and year-round color.

Before, a driveway had swept within 15 feet of the house. Herbst pulled the driveway back and redirected it to approach the house less abruptly. He then regraded the entry and improved the soil, using mushroom compost for annual beds and a mix of nitrogen-fortified wood shavings for the acid-loving plants.

Rather than create a formal, geometric plan, Herbst designed eye-catching curves and swoops. A bermed peninsula to the left of the graveled parking area partially blocks the view of the garage and puts the focus on the entry walk. The main walking surface is exposed aggregate, with ragged edges that seem to fracture into layers of shale. Rich, green Irish moss (Sagina subulata) grows in the gaps and softens the sharp edges.

Though the walkway looks 5 to 7 feet wide, it actually extends 12 to 18 inches farther on both sides, creating a hidden lip to support the shale. To form the walkway's angular, irregular edges, Herbst used aluminum flashing. He bent the flashing where he wanted, put it in place, and secured it with staples shot into slender stakes spaced about 6 inches apart and at every bend.

Between the concrete and shale, he left voids for soil--planting pockets for moss that extend into the garden and wrap around boulders brought to the site.

Farther from the walk, he switched to masses of bearberry cotoneaster (C. dammeri), heath (Erica carnea 'Vivelli'), and low-growing Juniperus horizontalis 'Wiltonii' and macrantha azaleas. Smaller clumps of sedums, Mentha requienii, and alpine bulbs border rocky areas.

Low-growing annuals tucked in among permanent plants provide color all year. In summer, Herbst plants geraniums, lobelia, and petunias. He switches to chrysanthemums for fall color, then to flowering kale in winter and early spring.
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Title Annotation:landscape remodeling
Date:Mar 1, 1985
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