Date: July 2, 2019 | Story: Tiffany Adams | Photography: Rett Peek |
A west Little Rock couple transforms the façade of their home with help from landscape designer Chris H. Olsen
After building their home in the 1990s, the owners of this west little rock house were ready to update its exterior. Not only did they want to make it feel more current, they desired a place where they could sit on the front porch to visit with neighbors and enjoy the beauty of a flower garden. Designer Chris H. Olsen of Botanica Gardens had worked with them on the home’s landscape decades before, so it was a natural choice to call on him when it was time to make these updates.
“Our goal was to give the exterior a cottage feel with lots of softness and texture,” Chris says. One way he accomplished this was by bringing the garden all the way to the sidewalk with a pair of semi-circle beds, which he says makes the curb less abrupt. Alongside Chris, contractor Mary Jane Herr worked on the functionality of the space. The walkways were widened to be more inviting for guests and stone pillars and a gate became a part of the design. The house also gained a front porch, a feature Chris says it previously lacked. All of these elements combine to create a charming, cottage- like atmosphere. “You can create a courtyard without hiding your house. Here, it complements the home and gives people just a small glimpse inside,” Chris says.
SIT A SPELL
Chairs made from repurposed wine barrels add a quirky, personalized touch to the front porch. Chris notes the porch is very private thanks to the numerous plantings. “You can sit on this porch and see your neighbors and talk with them but not feel like you’re on display,” he says. An orange and red bromeliad is potted with an arrowhead plant in the container atop the side table.
DWARF ‘LIMELIGHT’ HYDRANGEA
The blooms of this Southern classic add traditional air to any landscape. Plus, the green foliage provides an abundance of vivid color.
This evergreen shrub will bring color to the garden year-round, hence its name. From yellowish leaves in the spring that give way to green in the summer and orangish-red in the fall, this plant thrives in full sun to partial shade.
‘SEÑORITA ROSALITA’ CLEOME
Both heat- and drought- tolerant, this hardy plant can survive the steamiest of Arkansas summers, while still providing beautiful light pink flowers.
Chris’s Jhemajang line offers pre-potted plants that can be transferred to a container of your choice. For example, this mix of winter-hardy succulents and tropicals was pre-planted in a hanging basket sold at his nursery and later transferred here. “It doesn’t get any easier than that,” he says.
Chris added interest to the beds alongside the house with a container sitting atop a stone pillar. The focal point is a ‘Crimson Queen’ Japanese maple accented with ‘Bright Eye’ geraniums and a winter hardy carex grass. “All of this contrasts with the home’s neutral façade, and it looks like a living oral arrangement,” Chris says. Below, the bed is planted with knockout roses, boxwoods, and catmint, which gives the look of English lavender and is able to thrive in our climate.
CONTRACTOR AND OUTDOOR DESIGN M.J. Herr, Inc. LANDSCAPE AND OUTDOOR DESIGN Chris H. Olsen, Botanica Gardens PLANTS Botanica Gardens