An intimate perennial garden in Lake Bluff, Illinois

This European perennial garden—with a lively mix of season-long color—was designed to complement the style of this Lake Bluff home, as well as the family’s preference for hosting small, informal gatherings with friends and family. The focal point, a cozy bluestone patio, leads to meandering walkways that draw guests out among the flower beds.

The home’s neutral stucco exterior didn’t limit the color options—ultimately, the family selected a primary color palette of pinks, yellows and blues, plus pops of bright white for punctuation. Throughout the season, the gardens burst with bright perennials, augmented by overflowing cedar window boxes and ornamental iron planters filled with annuals and foliage. Hardscape elements, such as a granite millstone fountain, complete the picture by adding interest and structure to the environment.

As the landscape continues to mature, the Van Zelst team provides maintenance and helps the family bring new ideas to life. For example, the family wanted to incorporate a full-grown shady elm into the space. Craning it in, with its twelve-foot root ball, was a challenge, but one that was well worth the effort.

This home has a smaller footprint than some, and we love the challenge that presents. It’s a tremendous opportunity to stretch our imaginations and figure out how best to maximize the space.

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