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Garden with a View

Atop a hill, this Vancouver garden glitters

Written by Rebecca Christian
  • John Granen

    The contemporary Northwest home wasn't a stunner when Candace Young bought it in 1992, but the setting was. Situated atop a steep hill in Vancouver, Washington, the home commands a view of gleaming Vancouver Lake and the verdant hills of nearby Portland, Oregon.

    Fast-forward to 2000. Candace, an aficionado of traditional style, had breathed personality into her home's interior, but she was stumped by how to make the half-acre-plus that surrounds it--"a sun-baked no-man's-land"--equally lovely. Particularly bedeviling was the taming of the view. "The view from the kitchen, overlooking the lake, caught sunsets so glaring in the summer that I tried using furniture with umbrellas and planting this tree and that tree, randomly trying to break up the glare," she recalls.

    While pondering the purchase of a vacation home in Hawaii, Candace, a psychoanalyst, had an aha moment: "I would make my first home into my second, creating a place of serenity and beauty that I could enjoy, entertain in, and retreat to for the entire year. I wanted nooks and crannies where one could curl up with a book or watch the hummingbirds."

    She asked contractor Mark Ellertson, who had helped transform the interior, to collaborate with Portland landscape designer Michael Schultz on tying inside to outside during the two-year project. At first glance, Schultz saw not the chain-link fence and forlorn basketball hoop, but the big picture. "It was a tight space for all of the features she wanted," he recalls. The solution was to create three main areas: a brick terrace with an arbor to frame the view to the west; a private courtyard outside her bedroom; and the pool in back. "Now the front has a Nantucket look and the pool court feels tropical," Schultz says.

    On the property's west side, charming brick terraces and paths slope down to a sunny herb garden and a lower garden. At the swimming pool, notched into the hill at the opposite end of the lot, tendrils of rosemary adorn a retaining wall, and a hot tub perches above the pool, spilling into it like a waterfall.

    A bluestone patio topped by a copper roof shelters an outdoor kitchen and dining area overlooking the pool, with Chinese windmill palm trees (that Candace initially nixed) evoking a vacation vibe. "Michael really wanted them, but I said, 'No way; they don't fit into the Northwest.' I grew up in Southern California where there are palms in every 7-Eleven lot," she recalls. "When he said children would like them, I answered, 'Children would like a Mickey Mouse topiary, but we're not putting that in either!' Now I think the palms look lovely."

    Blue-gray hues in the bluestone patio, along with the pool's black bottom, render the water moody indigo for sparkling nighttime pool parties that Candace--with the help of her children, Peter and Margaret Gorman--loves to throw.

    "I entertain now five times as much as I used to," notes Candace, a raconteur who floats merrily down the stream of conversation. "It's not a big yard, but it feels huge because you go from place to place. I ask, 'Do you want to eat by the pool or shall we go and see the sunset?' Now that I've brought the outdoors in and can enjoy being outside almost year-round, I no longer feel that nature is my enemy," she comments. She also treasures the solitude that her courtyard garden offers on quiet mornings during first light (and first coffee!).

    The floral palette is romantic--pinks, blues, yellows, lavenders, and peachy oranges, with more vibrant colors in the pool court. In June, voluptuous 'Eden' roses--white with pink edges--perfume the garden; in fall, maple leaves burst into flame.

    Candace cherishes her garden for the way it calms her after an intense day of work and for the epiphany it brought. "We don't have to look so far from home to find our dreams," she muses. "Sometimes they are as close as our own backyard."

    Photography: John Granen
    Produced by Linda Humphrey

  • John Granen

    The fragrant 'Eden' rose.

  • John Granen

    An arbor with a cascade of 'Autumn Sunset' roses and clematis frames the view of Vancouver Lake and the verdant West Hills of Portland, Oregon, that drew homeowner Candace Young to the property she has converted to a year-round retreat.

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    A potted viola hybrid adds color to the pool.

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    Candace in the arch of the walled courtyard off the master bedroom, where she enjoys first light.

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    Cistus purpurea is potted at the pool, where color is more vibrant than in the rest of the garden.

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    Centered by a fountain, the lower garden is a pocket of privacy.

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    Oh-so-pretty petunias.

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    Fragrant rosemary covers the retaining wall in the pool court.

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    An outdoor kitchen is part of the pool court. Because it is on the outer side of the home's exterior wall, a copper roof provides shade and breaks up the verticality.

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    A brick path with a pergola beckons visitors to the pool court.

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    Details make a garden--like this lion's head fountain in the private courtyard off Candace's bedroom.

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    'Eden' roses spill fairy-tale like into the walls of Candace's private courtyard.

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    Flowers in terra-cotta pots alongside the bluestone steps help give the pool court its vacation vibe.

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    Details, details, details.

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    Can't you hear it buzzing?

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    The property captures a view of Vancouver Lake and the hills of Portland, Oregon.

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    Candace's granddog, Winston, strikes a dignified pose.

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    Interest is added by an iron inset in the wooden door leading to a swimming pool notched into a hill.

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    The brick terrace is a good place to enjoy the sunset.

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    A beautiful Jacquemontii birch tree shades the terrace.

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