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A private enclave
Containers add shots of color to a woodland garden and a backyard patio


July 2008

The backyard patio is an explosion of color. An L-shaped koi pond dotted with water lilies wraps around a curving brick patio like a moat, while the square concrete blocks act as stepping stones. Small beds of electric coral impatiens and blue salvia complement the orange of the patio umbrella. Many of the pots contain tropicals such as banana trees, cannas, celosia and hibiscus. "The backyard is heavy in annuals," says Joe Kresl. "Nothing gives you the punch of color and consistency like it."

Renovating the exterior of a 1953 contemporary house opened up a multitude of landscape and gardening possibilities for Joe Kresl and his wife, Jennifer. By replacing a gravel driveway with Belden brick and converting a side door into the front entrance, Kresl, the owner of Hawks Nursery, was able to create a lush private enclave that supports rather than conflicts with the exterior. "The home design needed to be complemented by the plants, not fight with it," he explains. Plant selections avoid the traditional. "No one would mistake it for a cottage garden," adds Kresl.

The Kresl home is situated on a one-acre lot in Elm Grove, one-third of which is woods with the remaining two-thirds open space. The lot came with many mature trees and Kresl has added to the mix. The property currently contains 40 varieties of trees including an unusual twisted filbert, a black cherry and an ironwood.

You’d think that after working with plants all day gardening would be the last thing Kresl would want to do when he came home. But it seems his green thumb is on steroids. "It’s therapy," explains Kresl. "Going home and watching your own garden grow is a great escape. It becomes a passion."

The bronze blue heron that overlooks a pond with an adjustable water jet actually acts as a decoy, keeping the real birds from lunching on Kresls’ koi. The pond features a biological filter along with ultraviolet light to kill algae. The use of containers helps reduce the amount of weeding while adding shots of color where needed.


The bluestone path edged with natural clay bricks practically invites a stroll. The walk and a bark mulch path leading through the woods allow the Kresls a chance to commune with nature. This lush woodland is punctuated with pots that include brightly-colored annuals as accents. Following the rules of container design, each pot contains a tall thriller, a colorful filler and a graceful spiller. A weathered teak bench represents one of the seating areas. Night lighting illuminates the path to the front door.



This story ran in the July 2008 issue of: