Court Yard Planning

From Dreams to Reality
The Story Behind Our Courtyard Garden

Many have been curious about how our garden came to be—the planning, the envisioning, and the execution behind it. Let us share a glimpse into that journey with you.

Imagine me, settled in an old blue metal chair in the yard, tea in hand, lost in collective thought. In this space, I envisioned myriad of gardens, mentally crafting and then reimagining them. Karl would often jest as he walked by, likening our process to the creation of Disneyland, which always made us laugh.

The garden you see today emerged from numerous imagined iterations. With each sip of tea, a new design unfolded; some ideas proved too ambitious, others too intricate, and a few simply didn’t hit the mark. Yet, through this creative dialogue of trial and error, a consistent vision began to crystallize, shaping the garden into the sanctuary it is today.

The Nest

Courtyard Drone View

Check out our courtyard from above in these drone shots. We’ve marked the different garden spots for you. You’ll find both labeled and unlabeled pictures below, showing off the gardens through the seasons. Each garden spot lights up with flowers when it’s their time to shine. First up in spring, the garage garden warms up quick, making the tulips pop. Then, the action moves to the woodland garden, where you’ll catch late tulips and early peonies. Come mid-summer, it’s all happening at the long shed with clematis and summer flowers taking center stage. The finale? The long shed garden rounds off the season with black-eyed Susans and a splash of sunflowers.

Our courtyard with named flower beds.

Creating Harmony in Our Garden
Embracing Structure, Maintenance, and Material Balance

In Montana, winters are long and the landscape turns to a palette of muted colors. Against this backdrop, we faced the challenge of injecting interest and color. The solution? Structure and careful material choice became our guiding principles, particularly focusing on raised beds for their aesthetic appeal and maintenance ease. Weeding, after all, is far from our favorite activity.

Our journey took an interesting turn following a conversation with a former Disney architect, who highlighted the importance of balancing materials in a garden’s design—a concept we hadn’t previously considered. This insight led us to strive for harmony among rock, wood, and metal in our garden and of course the occasional fox.

Our Fox
Rock Borders along the Long Shed
Wood vs. Rock: A Material Dilemma

Enjoy the best design and function combined together

Observing friends’ wooden garden beds succumb to decay after just a few years was a cautionary tale. We love our garden too much to see it face the same fate. The thought of dismantling and rebuilding wasn’t appealing, echoing our preference for doing things right the first time, even if it means more effort upfront.

Rocks emerged as the material of choice for several reasons. Beyond their durability, they add splashes of color against the winter’s drabness, thanks to the glacier till’s varied hues of reds, grays, and greens. Strategically placed higher rock walls not only bring color but also outline paths, reducing tripping hazards in the snowy season.

Revolutionizing Garden Borders

Edging Innovation

Inspired by a friend’s use of roof shingles for garden edging, we explored a more durable solution to combat invasive grass: a rock edging at the base of our walls. By digging a trench and creating a wide, shallow footer, we aimed to deter grass and simplify lawn maintenance, eliminating the need for tedious weed eating.

West Garden

This garden is ravaged by deer throughout the year. Everything here has to be reasonably deer proof. On the west side of the house, it is the first garden people walk through.    

Office View

This is the garden I see from my office.  I have watched the deer nibble on my plants and taunt me.  I have chased wild turkeys from fighting with their reflection in my sliding glass door.  

Spring Splendor

This is spring… do you know how I can tell?  The Memorial Peony is the first peony to bloom.  It is shorter than the rest and the flowers are blood red.