Styled by Garrison Hullinger

When the Hartzman-John family bought an adjacent lot to enlarge their Vancouver, WA home, their garden expanded too. They called upon their garden’s original creator, Portland landscape designer Michael Schultz, to help complete the mission they had given Green Gables Design and Restoration (design/build) of creating entertainment space that brings the garden inside and the interior party spaces outside. The house and garden get their name, Buena Vista, from the sweeping view of the Columbia River, which influences all aspects of the property, enjoyed by the family and their frequent guests alike.

Part of Michael’s task in continuing the garden’s evolution to an entertainment mecca was to frame the horizon by installing subtle boundaries that would not detract from the casual style of the house, with its stained shingle siding accompanying the board and batten finish of the garage and new party porch. The whole building has a decidedly weekend-in-Manzanita sensibility. A formal garden design would clash with the spirit of the house and its surroundings, and dampen the fun of the events hosted here.

Using an easy-care palette of plants selected for texture, Michael was also able to direct guest traffic around the exterior spaces, linking decks, porches, and arbors to lure visitors from one area to another. One can choose the quick route to the house and back garden using a paved walk, or meander down a grass path, lingering to watch the hummingbirds. Such grasses as golden feather grass, Stipa gigantea, give a lace curtain effect for summer and autumn, hinting at just enough separation between the two parallel paths to give each character, yet imparting a touch of mystery to the vine-clad arbor glimpsed just around the corner from the front porch, where the paths meet. Such techniques as this, using diaphanous textures to obscure a sight line and create intrigue are hallmarks of inventive garden-making.

Friendly garden fragrances add to a welcoming atmosphere. The expanded garden design was completed in 2003, and planting began that year. Now the shrubs and trees, like stately Magnolia denudata, are starting to achieve real presence in the garden, and fulfill their role of providing fragrance that adds to the general conviviality. Nothing soothes the spirit like spending a summer evening with friends in a perfumed garden. This magnolia starts the seasonal aroma parade with creamy blossoms resembling gardenias. Later comes the scent of the climbing rose ‘Compassion’, used on the front porch to greet guests all summer. Finally the Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora) contributes its frothy flowers in late September/ October, like a whipping cream roof on top of a simple metal arbor large enough to serve as an outdoor dining room.

Another grass, Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’– fronted by the fountain grass Pennisetum ‘Hameln’ – provides another boundary along the length of the lawn, an ideal way to focus the eye inward on the progress of a croquet match without blocking the river view for spectators on the patios. The lawn ends at the heated swimming pool, a simple rectangle of light blue water broken only by the soft splash of three water spouts. The gray stone and cement pool surround are understated, augmented by boldly planted containers featuring annuals around New Zealand flax, Phormium ‘Platt’s Black’, placed like punctuation marks on short plinths to emphasize corners and changes in elevation.

In a garden full of features selected to delight the guests, the ultimate highlight is the new inside-out party porch with attached changing room. Here the inside and outside are blended into a jolly open-walled space that, by the careful arrangement of materials, evokes the warm interior of a ski chalet on Mt. Hood. The hemlock decking that lines the open beam ceiling and the flat ashlar stone of the fireplace, complete with a sculpted hunting trophy, are a light-hearted take on the manly hunting lodge. Heavy wood end and coffee tables provide a stable anchor for the airiness of the room and view, and the fireplace warms the whole on cool autumn evenings when you’re just not ready to admit that summer is over, or in the spring, has not quite arrived!

The interface of inside and outside is further blurred by Michael’s selection of the trumpet vine, Campsis radicans, planted at one corner of the building but quickly finding its way into, and back out of, the party porch. One can imagine enjoying a friendly conversation here while watching hummingbirds feast on the nectar in the tempting orange funnels. Trumpet vine is vigorous (to say the least!), but can easily be kept in check by pruning it all the way down to three feet tall in the winter. It will recover itself and be swinging from the rafters again by July.


Michael Schultz Landscape Design

Ben Thomas Landscapers, Inc.

Green Gables Design & Restoration

Todd McMurray Design

Superior Standards Construction, Inc.

Cascade Pools and Spas