good gardens

Holst Architecture’s Smart Little Office Garden

By Kate Bryant June 21, 2011

I bike around town a lot gawking at gardens. Some of them are on my radar, and I’ll go out of my way to check on them regularly and see how they’re maturing.

This garden, at the offices of Holst Architecture, at SE 8th and Ankeny, has been a joy to watch since it was first planted, late in 2004.

Click on the slideshow, above, to see a series of photos.

It’s about seven years old now and, according to its creator, Holst Architecture founding principal Jeff Stuhr, it’s in need of a bit of care at the moment. But it looks great to me. Good bones means it won’t take long to tidy it up. He designed it to be easy to maintain and tolerant of tough urban conditions and, clearly, it is.

Here’s why I love this little garden:

1. It is simple: the plant choices are limited but well-chosen and compliment the structure.
2. It is interesting to look at – there are a variety of leaf shapes and colors, but not so many as to confuse.
3. The plant selection’s great – they are appropriately drought- and heat-tolerant – perfect for a busy architecture office without an irrigation system.

No garden is "no-maintenance" but this one comes about as close as one could hope for while still looking fantastic.

Plants like the star jasmine ( Trachelospermum ) and box honeysuckle ( Lonicera nitida ’Baggeson’s Gold’) require occasional pruning or shearing, while others – like the spurge ( Euphorbia characias var wulfenii) need occasional renewal and replacement. And there are other little tasks, as with any garden, like weeding and trimming back tendrils. But there’s an ease and simplicity about the design that provides a fine example for other businesses working with small, difficult urban spaces. I give this garden a big thumbs-up for smart plant choices, proper siting, great design and good care over the years. Stop by and see for yourself. If you head over soon, you’ll catch the lovely creamy flowers on the snow gums. Well worth a close-up viewing!

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