Perennials combine for a colorful landscape.
Story by Carol McGarvey
Photography by JACK COYIER, COURTESY OF TED LARE DESIGN + BUILD
Featured in January/February 2022
Grand spaces call for grand designs, as a 10-acre property south of Norwalk demonstrates. “We wanted a spot to be able to entertain our family and friends,” says the homeowner. “Plus, we wanted some more space to garden.” The couple moved from the Brown’s Woods area four years ago in February.
To enhance their new home, which has a beautiful limestone presence, they called upon the expertise of Ted Lare Design + Build. “This is such a lovely property,” Ted Lare says. “There’s room for a large pond that was enhanced by Elder Corporation in front of the centerpiece home built by Donnie Acheson of Acheson Construction.”
With limestone retaining walls to handle the large slopes that existed before the build, Lare has created a dramatic and beautiful wall of daylilies in various colors—burgundy, yellow, orange, and violet. As they bend and blow in the breezes, the plants appear to dance and move. Stone stairways built into the large retaining walls, in both the front and back of the home, allow you to move freely from one level to the next.
Lare featured a center bed in the circular driveway near the front entry to showcase six weeping white spruce trees with their interesting shapes. “These trees are extremely hard to get. We get a shipment and that’s all we get for a time, no matter how many we have ordered.” He also used some in the large retainer wall for interest and for their height.
The weeping white spruce trees and many of the plants used in the design are fairly low maintenance. They provide a dramatic effect with contrasts of colors and textures. Numerous hydrangeas provide a tropical feel throughout the second half of the year. The Japanese maples and ornamental grasses provide year-round color and texture.
On the covered porch, which runs across the whole front of the home, are numerous elongated black planters and window boxes filled with vibrant, colorful plantings. They include deeply variegated coleus, begonias, hostas, large urns with zinnias, and beds of alliums (dwarf onions) that feature small, soft lavender flowers. Lare says everyone should be planting the alliums everywhere. “Deer do NOT like them, so those with large deer populations should take heed.”
At the back of the home is an herb garden, just right for snipping and infusing flavor into home-cooked meals.
Two large doorways open from the house to the outdoor entertaining area to create effortless transitions from the indoors to the backyard living room. The inviting outdoor living room has comfy furniture and a television hung over the fireplace. The outdoor kitchen with gas grill has heaters and ceiling fans, allowing flexibility on the whims of the weather.
A 24-foot-square pool, built by Valley Pool, beckons visitors to take a dip while enjoying the Southern view of the native forest area. A pool house adjacent to the pool makes it easy to have company over for the afternoon.
A space for everyone
When designing the home, the homeowners wanted to make sure they will be comfortable for many years to come as well as be welcoming to all of their guests. A ramp is helpful to a relative in a wheelchair. There’s also an elevator inside the home to the lower level. “We tried to think of everyone who might be coming here,” says the homeowner.
A berm to the east of the home showcases Karl Foerster grasses that blow and shimmer in the wind. The pond, featuring a fountain in the center, is stocked with bass and catfish.
North of the house is a beautiful sunflower field. Its edging consists of lovely zinnias, marigolds, and gladiolas.
The couple planned the home in anticipation of the husband’s retirement and had actually considered moving back to their home state of Tennessee. They are glad they reconsidered. “We decided to see where our son and daughter-in-law ended up, and that is right here in central Iowa. And now there are two precious granddaughters to seal the deal.”
They aren’t going anywhere. •
- Landscaper Ted Lare Design + Build