Trish and Bob bought the property in 1979, and over twoyears, built the passive-solar, four-story house. Though mod-ern in design, the home’s use of natural materials gives visi-tors the sense that it simply rose from the rolling fields aroundit, like a rock outcropping or a bluff. In the 25 years they havelived there, Trish and Bob have purchased land around them asit became available, returning cropland to prairie and woods.Currently, they own 100 acres. A few years ago, Trish and Bobdecided to remain in the house after retirement. That decisionand the aging of the landscaping Trish had installed over theyears prompted the choice to start from scratch.They contacted several landscape architects to help themwith the project, which they knew would be large, complicated,and expensive. After interviewing several, they settled onJordan-based landscape architect Herb Baldwin. Trish immedi-ately sensed Baldwin’s sympathy with the property. “He didn’tlook at the house and say, ‘well, you need this or this.’ He said,‘this is a beautiful piece of land,’” Trish recalls. As a gardener with 30 years experience, Trish was a knowl-edgeable and opinionated client. She loved Baldwin’s affinitywith the property and his scheme for making the most of it,but had her own ideas as well. “Gardeners want one of every-thing,” she says, “while landscapers have a vision. They arethinking about masses of colors and shapes and forms. Herbhad strong opinions and ideas, but I never felt he was brow-beating me to do something.” Trish vetoed certain plants: noTollefson’s juniper or Amur maples were allowed in her garden.(A compromise allowed five—but on probation.) She endorsedBaldwin’s idea of a lower-maintenance landscape with fewertypes of plants and a more dramatic use of water and rocks. “Itwas hard to say good-bye to 30 peonies and 45 daylilies, but Iwanted a garden that was a little easier to keep up,” she says.
Big Plans, Lots of Dirt
After deciding to go ahead with the landscaping project inearly 2005, the Johnsons and Baldwin spent the next sixmonths planning. Trish saved all of Baldwin’s fluid drawings of the planned garden, reminders that from the mud and debrisaround her something wonderful would emerge. Demolitionon the property started in fall of 2005, with decks added thatfall. The rest of the work was completed from April throughNovember 2006, with some finishing work done in early 2007.Trish recalls that early in the spring of 2006 the foreman fromLandshapes Inc., the Minneapolis-based contractor that didthe landscaping, came to her door. “Hello, Mrs. Johnson,I’ll bewith you for most of the next year,” he said. Says Trish, “Onething that kept me going was I never felt I had been aban-doned. They always had somebody working on something.”
Changes in hardscaping and plants indicate changes in function. Trish takes a rare break.
Rugged materials enhance the kitchen.A plexiglass window over the cabana lets light in and keeps rain out.