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For The Garden

Small Garden, Great Style

Author: Judy Harper
Issue: June, 2013, Page 112
Photos by Richard Maack

Sherry Hauser maximized her small backyard by carefully integrating indoor and outdoor spaces. On the narrow L-shaped patio, a table topped with reclaimed wood is treated regularly for outdoor use. The wall’s iron screen-turned-trellis was used as a headboard in a former home; today it supports a bower vine. To filter harsh rays, a shade screen sits atop the patio’s cover.

A Home’s Charming Patio Gardens Offer a Blend of Old and New

An interior designer by trade, Sherry Hauser can’t help but chuckle when people call her a gardener. While her property is lush with desert and tropical plants, she is quick to admit that there was quite a learning curve before earning her green-thumb stripes. “I’m a farm girl from Indiana, but because of a busy career, it took me 40 years to figure out how to grow flowers here and have a garden that looks good year-round,” she confides.

Her Phoenix yard, which is small on square footage but big on style, resonates with smart design and personality. Mature trees and a trellis with a sunscreen provide cover for the petite outdoor spaces. Hauser used her designer’s eye to create wonderfully cozy nooks in which to relax, read a good book, and enjoy a meal with friends and family. The home itself celebrates the outdoors, with walls of windows erasing the boundary between inside and out.

United by Saltillo tile flooring, the patio and surrounding landscape incorporate a variety of colors, textures, focal points and fragrances. Hauser created a collected look with vintage furnishings, such as an antique potting bench and a reclaimed-wood dining table. The pieces mingle pleasingly with desert vegetation, herbs and garden annuals. “The same principles of design apply inside as well as outside—scale, proportion, balance,” she explains. “If you like the diversity of old and new mixed together, you can incorporate this in exterior spaces as well; you just have to be more careful because of the elements.”

Terra-cotta pots brimming with seasonal color, lush greenery and even citrus trees are scattered throughout the garden. “Terra cotta blends so well with Mexican tile,” Hauser remarks. “I have collected these pots for a long time and moved some of these potted plants from house to house for 30 years.”

The homeowner wanted a look outdoors that would draw interest. “The painting is not a valuable piece, but I love it,” she comments. “My faux finisher added some terra-cotta touches to it in my previous house to match the interiors there, and she toned it down with more neutral tones to fit here.” The antique French potting bench has a zinc top.
Always thirsty for advice, the designer says that she regularly devours gardening articles. “You have to learn what grows well and is hardy. We have so many good nurseries in this area, and they offer a wealth of information. I was working in the garden one day, and the landscaper next door popped over. He saw that I was putting up a screen in the garden, and he told me that a bower vine would work really well there. That type of advice is invaluable.

“There is a lot of trial and error involved with gardening,” she continues. “I used to water once a week and the plants either made it or not. I gradually ventured beyond what will just survive and make it in the heat. I’m in a new phase of life now and have the time to go out every day and look at my plants; and if something is not thriving, I try moving it to a new location. You have to accept the fact that not all plants are going to live.”

Whether they are enjoying a quiet moment on the back patio or watching their giggling granddaughters scamper off to the “secret garden” out front, the designer and her husband, Douglas, agree that their landscape repays in beauty what it demands in maintenance. “We enjoy our efforts every day,” she explains. “This is such a peaceful place to sit and relax.”

A narrow front entry with a skylight was brought to life with greenery, including the dense-growing yew pine climbing the wall.

On the left side of the walk is a zinc-topped antique iron console that serves as both a trellis and a display table.
Homeowner Sherry Hauser made good use of every inch of her landscape, creating a secret garden in her front yard. The tranquil nook is framed by myrtle and bougainvillea.

Photos - Clock-wise from top left: Much of the family living and alfresco entertaining takes place on the back patio, which borders a golf course. Lush-looking plants that offer texture and form—such as assorted palms and ferns—shape the inviting setting, along with mature pine trees. The custom coffee/wine bar combines a wrought-iron base with a zinc top. The stools, which are accented with Ultrasuede-covered cushions—are set in a sheltered spot when not in use. • An iron lantern and a red-blooming pentas plant in a terra-cotta pot accessorize a table. • A cushioned seating area and lots of springtime flowers add to the relaxed ambience of the patio. • A wrought-iron window box situated outside the kitchen window is filled with potted cyclamen and herbs.
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