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Archive for Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bright flowers at Lawrence home pass muster with flying colors

John McCaffrey, Lawrence, surveys the home of Eric and Megan Edwards on the 400 block of Lawrence Avenue. McCaffrey, who performs landscaping for several Lawrence clients, has used a colorful array of annuals to brighten up the property.

John McCaffrey, Lawrence, surveys the home of Eric and Megan Edwards on the 400 block of Lawrence Avenue. McCaffrey, who performs landscaping for several Lawrence clients, has used a colorful array of annuals to brighten up the property.

April 30, 2008

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Grape hyacinth are among the featured flora John McCaffrey likes to use.

Grape hyacinth are among the featured flora John McCaffrey likes to use.

If you ever travel down Lawrence Avenue, you have undoubtedly seen the gorgeous garden of the Edwards family. While there are many stunning landscapes on the street, this one is particularly grand. I think it is due to the bones of the garden, but a large reason people seem to notice this place is the use of annuals for color and the juxtaposition of pots filled with unique, often tropical, plants. The oversized, waxy, broad leaves fluttering in the breezes framing a country formal garden just seem to work as effortlessly as hostas and coral bells.

And while the Edwards family is graciously concerned with how the onlooker experiences their garden, Megan Edwards thought the best person to talk about the space was landscaper John McCaffrey.

"Last year we did a lot of orange, yellow and purple," McCaffrey says. "We want the colors to pop as people drive by, and it's important to Megan that everyone enjoys the view. In fact, often buses from Brandon Woods will come over and peek around."

McCaffrey plants many species that naturalize, and then he accentuates those plants with tree peonies and boxwoods to create the country formal feel.

Edwards finds much of her inspirations from magazines, antiquing and travel. The home itself has the stamp of many fabulous "found" objects, from the aged wooden doors to pieces of the gate and garden sculptures in the front yard. Two river birches frame the semi-circle drive, with many spring bulbs splattering a primary color here and there rooted in the tiered limestone beds. On the other side of the driveway a lovely courtyard boasts an ornate iron gate and fence. Those partition off a tidy area with a horseshoe border created out of boxwoods, which showcases an enormous urn with a topiary conifer in a spiral shape. Holly and peonies soften the corners to polish off the courtyard bed.

A female cottonwood tree brings an amazing presence to the front landscape with its odd, fuzzy clustered blooms of maroon fashioning a magical view when you look up. No doubt the headaches ensue when those "blooms" are spent and come careening to the neat, green lawn, but for now the tree is a true showstopper.

While onlookers tend to only see the magnificent front yard, the backyard is an outdoor oasis as well. But because of the tilting topography of the lot, it is a hidden gem.

McCaffrey states, "The sloping nature has been the biggest challenge. We've incorporated a lot of rock ledges and limestone steps to help with the unusual decline. I'm glad I'm not the person who mows!"

With large walls of arborvitae sheltering the family and their private living area from the hustle and bustle of Lawrence Avenue, the backyard is a play place for the young and young-at-heart.

The custom-built playground and large expanse of green space is sure to please most kids, but as you explore the backyard there is truly something to put a smile on everyone's face. The expansive upper deck extends the entire length of the house, and when the large hardwood trees are fully leafed out the deck feels a lot like being in a tree house. The deck overlooks a cozy out-building office space that is adjacent to a full-size tennis/basketball court. The rubbery floor is a feat of modern textiles, gripping and probably great for shock value.

"This was all lawn when they moved in years ago. The family wanted a place to entertain and barbecue - they are very active people. With four kids that are all into sports, it is pretty much non-stop over here," McCaffrey says.

Just as I think I've seen the most impressive natural space we come to the outdoor family room, equipped with an impressive white brick and stone fireplace, built-in cabinetry to wrap around and enclose the "room." The mantle has an elaborate mirror reflecting the blue sky. The cushions on the worn wooden and rustic iron furnishings are a lime green and cream color, beckoning a person to sit and watch the fire roar on a chilly spring evening.

"Megan likes Tuscany and wanted the garden and this area to reveal that," McCaffrey says. "She loves to get online and discover fun antiques. Megan saw this fireplace idea in a magazine, and we just recreated it."

McCaffrey says he researched plants that grew in Tuscany and then adapted that sense to flora that will thrive in Kansas.

"I'm allowed to use my creativity here; we change things up every year so it doesn't look the same by using different colors and annuals, " McCaffrey says. "I fill in the gaps and cracks with color."

Jennifer Oldridge, a Kansas University graduate, is an avid gardener who previously operated a landscaping business.

Comments

Multidisciplinary 5 years, 11 months ago

conservative saysOut of sight from their house so out of mind I suppose.touche' !-------------K_dub (Anonymous) says: It is an amazing garden! It reminds me of pictures I've seen of the olde English cottages and gardens!----------------Try the sidewalk view on Google maps..must not have been spring yet LOL.

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le 5 years, 11 months ago

I also planted many various flowers in random spots `round the whole thing and did not use any mortar...cuz in cal. the earthquakes would crack it anyway..so I shimmed the stones so I could easily go back in and fix any problems! At night you could take a walk in the neighborhood and here the music of the water 5 houses away...Nothin better 2 go 2 sleep at night than 2 here the sound of the falls singin you 2 sleep! A yard is a terrible thing 2 waste! I recommend if ya got the space 2 build yerself a little slice of paradise! The rocks unearthed in the hole were of many colors and I put the finishing touches with the small colorful stones ..so in all When done I had over 100 different stones in the project! It was a great high 2 take gods work and redirect it and use his/her products of nature and make a little slice o heaven!

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le 5 years, 11 months ago

Anyway...I luv 2 build ponds as a hobby..The last one I did was 4 my brother in cocord cal.....I used 9 different rocks as the base of the project...and dressed it out with the small stones me and my bro unearthed as we dug the hole(we used a tiller 2 loosen the soil) after the hole was dug my bro went 4 a visit 2 ks and went 2 Ft. Scott (his birthplace) and bought a trailer 2 bring back some fence stone from the area..I went 2 a local distributer and got some black oregon stone and mixed it up..I used wah stone as the base ..and got some glittery flat stone 2 use in yhe waterfalls...and 4 turtle sun bathing around the sides..From 1 pump I directed the water and made 3 falls..It was majestic! I put in plants built in and kept them covered in rocks inside pots 2 restrict the growth and bonsaid them...2 give it the oriental feel 2 go with the coy! My brother smuggled in small water turtles and they loved playin in the falls!

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le 5 years, 11 months ago

Life is a lot of work! Just 2 get the daily tasks (necessities) is hard enough...so when some one puts this kind of effort into their pride of their personal surroundings I must tip my hat 2 them..and 2 those with negative comments...You may need 2 put on yer sunglasses cuz yer green eyed jealousy is hurtin my eyes! I am a big fan of withsteria...It is a very cool slice of nature...My mom has a weeping mulberry in her front yard and it is way 2 cool...I am in the bay area of cal. right now and am amazed at the landscapes here and wish ks could sustain the beautiful growing that this climate allows! I am also a Bonsai fanatic ..the only thing besides my kids n g-kids that I get excited bout! momma nature is a beautiful thing I luv 2 watch the trees dancin in the wind ...the simple things in life we take 4 granted and in todays fast pace we tend 2 forget 2 take time 2 smell the roses! When I was a kid and walked 2 school (opal jane kennedy) i walked by an old ladies house on the S.E. corner after the 4-way stop on 19th (dont recall the intersection) but the 4-way is at the bottom of the hill to the east of 19th & haskell! We called her old lady cass..(u that grew up here in late `60s know) she took great care & pride in her landscape! Beautiful!

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K_dub 5 years, 11 months ago

It is an AMAZING garden! It reminds me of pictures I've seen of the olde English cottages and gardens!It is worth a drive by!

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christy kennedy 5 years, 11 months ago

buggie7, you can report a damaged sidewalk to the city but the homeowner, not the city, is responsible for the cost of repair or replacement.Also, for a story about an extensively landscaped yard, why the keyhole views and not a small gallery so we can actually see what it looks like?

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conservative 5 years, 11 months ago

I agree this is an incredible house and an incredible garden. The view from Lawrence Avenue is fantastic. Would be nice for the neighbors behind them if they took care of their yard outside of the fence however. Behind the fence but still on their yard is a wasteland without grass, dumped rocks, and rotting tree branches. Out of sight from their house so out of mind I suppose.

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Buggie7 5 years, 11 months ago

I agree its not about that. What a beautiful garden whatever flowers they may be. Toe if ya have a problem with the sidewalk call your city thats who owns it. Just a thought.

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Pywacket 5 years, 11 months ago

Yes, yes, we know that already.... But what does that have to do with a gardening article? Really.

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Pywacket 5 years, 11 months ago

Those aren't bluebells--they're grape hyacinth!That aside, this sounds like a very cool garden space. I've never noticed it--maybe I need to drive slowly down that street some time soon.

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toe 5 years, 11 months ago

This house has a horrible sidewalk out front. The kids walking to Deerfield have to be very careful.

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