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Nantucket calling
Prairie meets East Coast in landscape design

Photos by Doug Edmunds

May  2014

It’s hard to believe Daniel and Erica Galligan’s backyard paradise began with frozen mounds of dirt. The Galligans were moving to a newly built house in Cedarburg from Fox Point and the property had zero landscaping. They knew they wanted a pool for their three young boys, but that was it.

The couple also knew they didn’t want the norm — what everybody else was doing — and James Drzewiecki of Ginkgo Leaf Studio, Cedarburg, was happy to oblige. "My No. 1 focus is to make the landscape reflect the nature of the home," Drzewiecki says.

Since the house has a modern Colonial feel, Drzewiecki immediately thought of Nantucket and an Eastern seaboard look. Erica Galligan wanted something to cover the area and offer protection from the sun and rain, so a white painted PVC structure was erected on-site and a black fence went around the pool. "Jim really helped in figuring out the functionality," Daniel Galligan says. "With the three boys, part of the yard needed to be a sports area, so he placed the pool in what was the dead area of the yard. Now the easily accessible part of the yard is set up for play."

Everything is incorporated nicely together," Erica Galligan adds. "We live in a new subdivision — not a lot of mature trees and plants — so Jim was cognizant of choosing plants that were fast-growing but also worked with the open prairie. When we’re sitting by the pool or on the pool deck it feels like we’re sitting in the prairie. We have a sense of privacy."

To achieve this seamless look, Drzewiecki used native plants and cultivars of native plants. These included fountain grass, Allium, black-eyed susans, purple coneflowers and Rozanne geraniums and boxwoods around the pool.

"I remember unfurling the plans in front of them and Erica saying, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s our backyard?’" Drzewiecki says. "Erica and Daniel are not gardeners by nature so when they first saw all the plants they might have been put off. But all the plants are very hardy. Now they tell me that Daniel enjoys coming home from work and pulling the occasional — emphasis on occasional — weed."

Drzewiecki also installed a fire pit and landscape lighting. "Light is an important component of landscape design in order to use the space day and night," he says. "The fire pit allows them to enjoy the seasons in Wisconsin." 

This story ran in the May2014 issue of: