Written by: Sue Trusty/Photos by: Robin Victor Goetz
Before Cindy and Dave Jackson bought their Hyde Park home, they carefully considered both house and garden. They were looking for property with a European flair. The house they chose has a Cotswold cottage aura and a cozy courtyard in front. The Jackson family—Cindy, Dave and their three sons—toured Europe in the summer of 2001 and loved the look and feel of the European courtyard gardens. “When I saw this courtyard, I fell in love immediately. I thought it was such a unique space that you can’t just recreate in any house,” says Cindy. “Of course, it didn’t look anything like this when we bought it. But we saw the potential and knew it could be beautiful.”
“When you see the house, you imagine what the gardens should look like,” agrees Dave. To help them realize their dream garden, Cindy and Dave chose Andy Perrino, owner of Perrino Landscape, Inc. The couple had seen examples of Perrino’s work in a magazine article. Later they met Perrino at the Cincinnati Home and Garden Show and knew he was the designer for them.
The European courtyard
From the hospitable bienvenue plaque on the garden gate to the ivy covered stucco walls, the lavishly landscaped courtyard has all of the elements of a European garden room. Flagstone paving stretches between colorful planting beds. The beds contain hydrangea, boxwood and azalea bushes. Dogwoods and sweet bay magnolia trees add height. Salvia and roses add color. The plantings are designed to give a progression of blooms from spring through fall. Containers of lively annuals fill in any gaps in the sequence.
The weathered cobblestones that outline each bed were acquired from Pete Rose Way. They accent the beds and contribute to the appeal of the design. The fountain, brought from the Jacksons’ previous home, adds an air of elegance. Window boxes brimming with flowers, wrought-iron furniture and a plethora of stone and terra cotta planters give the new courtyard an old-world feel.
The walled courtyard can be accessed from the family room. “It’s a great place to hang out. When we have other couples over, this is our drinks and hors d’oeuvres area. It’s perfect for coffee or Sunday brunch, too.”
The formal English garden
Cindy and Dave were so pleased with the way the front courtyard looked that they called Perrino when it was time to design the back. Here they envisioned a formal English garden.
The Jacksons’ fabulous formal garden started as a nightmare. Ivy, Japanese honeysuckle and weeds had taken over. But the walls were there, defining a long narrow space backed by a natural area. Instead of changing the layout, Cindy was inspired to play up the narrowness of the space by creating an elongated alley garden. Your eye moves from one spot to the next along the length of the garden.
At the entrance to the transformed garden is a wrought-iron rose arbor. Climbing “Queen Elizabeth” and “Social Climber” roses will soon engulf the structure to make a fragrant bower of color. The arches have low voltage lighting at the top.
Over two hundred boxwood shrubs outline a series of planting beds. Cindy is in charge of pruning them. “It’s just like getting a haircut—if you don’t like the way it turns out, don’t worry, it will grow back!” exclaims Cindy.
Blue mist shrub, hibiscus and “Annabel” hydrangeas fill some of the beds, along with roses and other perennials. There is a lot of color and show at the front end of the long garden, and more subdued areas further along. One large bed consists entirely of magenta and white peonies under-planted with ivy. Green spheres add surprise to this simple planting scheme.
The centerpiece of the back garden is the large fountain selected from Renaissance Garden Ornament in Oakley. The garden needs this large focal point to balance the massive trees in the background. Benches from Smith and Hawken provide roosting spots for relaxation and contemplation. A deck from the second story of the house overlooks the garden lending a different perspective to the whole. The neighbor’s landscape is formal and offers a beautiful borrowed view.
Purple smoke trees were a late addition. Cindy explains: “My dad is an excellent gardener. Purple smoke trees are his favorite accent trees. My sisters and I always incorporate one into our landscape, but I forgot this when Andy drew up our plan. As the landscape was being installed, I told Andy we needed to find a place for one, because it would make my dad so happy!” Perrino situated three smoke trees behind the wall and it is just perfect.
Cindy admits that she keeps adding things and has trouble knowing when to stop. Luckily the garden is large enough to accommodate that.
This garden was just completed early last fall. Cindy looks forward to entertaining here and describes her dream dinner party. “What I would like to do is have one really long table for 40 or 50 people extending down the center of the garden. On the walls, I would have thousands of candles, and maybe chandeliers hanging over the tables. We have wired for electricity to accommodate that. It will be a great place to have a party!”
“We are going back to England this summer for a few weeks of castle and garden tours,” adds Dave. “That might just jump start some new garden projects!”
Resources: Landscaping: Perrino Landscape, Inc.; Garden fountain: Renaissance Garden Accents; Benches: Smith and Hawken