In this peaceful back yard refuge in the middle of the city, the homeowners notice that people visibly relax when they enter the space. A water bowl on the dining terrace is nestled into clumping bamboo and lush plantings. In spring the bowl is filled with frog eggs, a source of enjoyment for the homeowners to watch them mature.

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A faux porch of sorts was conceived by Lansing after learning the owners had always wanted one, but due to architecture constraints, a front porch was not possible. A new small porch on the side of the garage was a turning point for the design and the "flow" of the back yard. "It solved many design dilemmas," Lansing says. Radiating from the porch and back door, two complementary patios--one of pavers and one of gravel--anchor the back yard.

Concrete pieces from the side yard's demolished driveway became the sinuous retaining wall across the back. Comprehensive back yard renovation work was completed by Joy Creek Nursery in 2010. Carpenter Andrew Babiracki of Terra Prima built the porch. The front yard was completed by Jaylene Walter Landscapes in 2015.  And the tea hut in the secret garden was completed by Bill Hoyland in 2016.

For more story of this garden, see blog of July 2016: Garden Tour Day: a designer's perspective.