At Home in Arkansas:
You’ve created a mini-compound on this hilltop overlooking the Ozarks, from gardens and relaxation places to outbuildings and even a chicken coop. What inspired this diversity?
We designed the spaces so that you could go to various parts of the yard and have a different feeling, from wide open areas with views to more tucked in and cozy places.
Each area is a destination for particular times of day—strolling to the chicken coop in the morning for fresh eggs, relaxing on the patio on a weekend, sitting on the porch and watching the sunset. You can have different experiences in each place.
AHIA: Did the cottage style of your home influence the kind of garden you created and the structures you built?
SD: Absolutely, and that style did not exist here at all when we purchased the property five years ago. It had a 1970s house and just a few trees and shrubs in the yard. This hilltop seemed to call for a country cottage, something very comfortable and casual, and we renovated the house completely and then carried the architectural elements from the house over to the garage, shed and other structures.
AHIA: How did you carry the cottage style through to the gardens?
JC: By choosing informal elements, the type of things you’d see around an English cottage, like gravel pathways, stone walls and colorful flowers. As much as we enjoy formal gardens, we felt that a natural look would work best on this property, a style that rolls along with the hillside. I also appreciate color, especially bright combinations of yellow and purple, or red and orange, and letting those colors flow together keeps things casual.
AHIA: What was your starting point for creating the outdoor rooms?
SD: We knew we wanted certain destinations, including a pool and patio off the back of the house and a garden along the side, and then we created pathways to link these areas together so they flow around the house and lead you through the property. The stone walls, which define the pool, the patio and the walking paths, were important. Every stone in the walls came from our property, and they appear dry stacked but they’re actually mortared so there’s no concern about them staying in place. Then it was a process of creating the gravel walkways and planting the beds. They’re all connected but we like them to be freeform and kind of ramble around.
AHIA: How did you make plant choices?
JC: Certain kinds of plants lend themselves to cottage style—flowering shrubs like Abelia, hydrangeas and lilacs, certainly roses, butterfly bush and other perennials that have old-time appeal. I’m not the kind of gardener who knows all the botanical names. I grew up gardening with my mother, and my plant choices tend to be favorites based on color, height, how quickly they’ll grow, and if they’re low maintenance and drought tolerant. And over time, some excel, like salvia that seems to love it here, and others make their own plans known, like the Cleome that died in one garden bed and then sprouted up on the walkway and is thriving.
AHIA: You surrounded the pool with plants as well, blending it so naturally into the garden setting.
SD: Yes, we tried to make it feel more organic, both in shape and style. It features a stone waterfall and is edged in fieldstone, and like our garden, there are no straight lines, rather it curves and flows. The pool is our oasis throughout the summer, and the sound of the waterfall is always soothing.
AHIA: The cottage look even carries through to the chicken coop. These lucky chickens have a cupola and weathervane on their house.
JC: That same style of cupola is on the chicken coop, the shed near the pool, as well as the garage, and the details help unify the property. The paint colors, the roofs, the window boxes and the architectural elements are all the same from building to building, and white fencing wraps everything together. It helps the place look finished while not being formal or stuffy.
SD: If you’re going to have a chicken coop, it should be a nice one, right? It’s very satisfying to get up in the morning and gather your own organic eggs in beautiful shades of brown and blue. You feel more in touch with nature, walking through your garden and to the chicken coop to gather your breakfast. It’s more than just visual; it’s a lifestyle choice.
Design, furnishings Vintage Cargo, Eureka Springs
Builder Al Larson Builder, Inc., Eureka Springs
Plants Bear Creek Nursery, Eureka Springs
Pool, patio Burton Pools & Spas, Springdale