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Scattered throughout the back yard, part of which is enclosed by a thick, 10-foot hedge, are stone paths and groupings of lava rocks and baked-clay rocks from North Dakota and stones from along the St. Croix River.
The rocks are even more visible out front, where the landscape is more low-lying, with wild geranium, snow-on-the-mountain and shade-friendly hostas and astilbes forming a carpet under the massive maple. Enclosed by a black wrought-iron fence, the front yard has the air of a cottage courtyard, not at all cluttered like so many grass-free gardens.
The boulevard came last, Sherwood said, “after we started wondering ‘Why do we still have a lawn mower just to do that?’ ”
Indeed, for all the property’s design integration, for all the connective tissue wrought by myriad stone paths and water music, the major evolution of these gardens has been giving this couple more time to actually enjoy the fruits of their labor.
They removed a labor-intensive pond, replaced cedars that didn’t like winter and spruces that didn’t like summer, got rid of most plants that had to overwinter inside and (reluctantly) eschewed Zone 5 plants such as Japanese maple. Best of all, they built the screened-in enclave where they can soak it all in.
“This shouldn’t be hard labor,” Menge said. “What we have now is more peaceful, more serene. And it’s a lot less work.”
Bill Ward • 612-673-7643