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- Adam McCullough
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The Hemphill Project

The current featured project is a private residence on a cul-de-sac lot that backs up to an old tree-lined creek bed. The building site offered many challenges and opportunities that you seldom see in this part of Kansas such as drastic changes in terrain and abundant existing trees.

We were lucky to have clients with such faith in our abilities that we were allowed to do just about whatever we could envision to transform this house into their Ozark-like retreat. The existing trees and ten foot change in elevation, from foundation to creek bottom, made this process both simple to envision and difficult to execute.

In the front yard, the objective was to create an environment that was both elegant and inviting while maintaining continuity with the rear trees and slope. To accomplish this, we actually increased the slope of the front yard by pushing the entry sidewalk out away from the foundation and installing a natural boulder retaining wall as support for planting beds.

These beds were filled with a mixture of plants that ranged from naturalizing to formalizing yet all being low maintenance. Color was added with the use of perennial flowers, long blooming roses and flowering shrubs as well as paying attention to different leaf colors and textures and blending in evergreens for winter interest.

A pondless water feature was added to the mix in the front entry sequence to draw the visitor through the space toward the front porch and low voltage lighting was used to accent specimen plants, textures and the walk at night.

The back yard had an incredible slope that was made manageable by constructing a ten foot high boulder retaining wall and several levels of brick patios. A cook center, water feature and dramatic lighting finish off the entertainment areas while a vegetable garden terrace sits ready for plants in the spring.

The wooded area was partially cleared of fallen trees and brushy undergrowth then replanted with flowering trees and shrubs to tame the otherwise wild creek bottom. Lighting was suspended in key trees to provide a special ambiance and boulders were placed as benches from which to enjoy nature.

All in all, the project came together quite nicely and looks as if it were transplanted from the Ozark region of northwest Arkansas. That is, until you drive away and the flatness of Sedgwick County again reigns supreme in the landscape.