This Oregon garden is designed for aging in place

As the mirror delights in telling me every morning, I’m not getting any younger.

But at least I have plenty of company.

By 2034, according to Danielle Arigoni, AARP’s director of livable communities (and a 1991 University of Oregon grad), there will be more people 65 and over than there are 18 and under for the first time in U.S. history.

Which is why aging in place — and how best to do it — is such a major issue now, one that will only become more important in the next several decades.

“It’s a massive demographic tipping point,” Arigoni says. A 2018 AARP survey found 75% of those 50 (what I call “those kids”) and over want to age in their own home, and the percentages grew even higher in older age groups.

Much has been written about what to do to make a residence’s interior best suited for homeowners as they age. (See AARP’s very informative — and very free — Home Fit guide.)

But less has been shared about how to make a private garden accessible as people age into their 70s, 80s and 90s. The American Society of Landscape Architects has addressed public spaces and gardens, but not private residences.

Which is where Jane Coombs, a retired landscape designer, comes in.

A few years ago, Jane and husband, Peter Dowse, knew it was time to move out of their beloved 1914 Craftsman in Sellwood. With stairs leading up to the entry, an upstairs master bedroom and a basement laundry room, the home was all the things aging-in-place experts don’t recommend.

So it was that they found themselves in a one-story house in Milwaukie and Jane, with 30-plus years of landscape design experience, had a 10,000-square-foot, relatively blank canvas to work with outdoors.

And in the process of designing her garden, she always kept in mind what would work best for her and her husband 10 years down the road.

“When I’m 90,” she explains, “I won’t be able to maintain the garden the way I can now.”

This thinking led Jane to incorporate aging-in-place design principles in her front and back gardens, many of which we’ve included in the tips.

They include flat, navigable surfaces for wheelchairs and walkers, a step-free entry from inside the house to the patio, easy-maintenance plants, plenty of seating and multiple hose bibs. A LOT of hose bibs. OK, eight, to be exact.

Marcia:

A very dear friend of mine from high school, Oklahoma State University assistant professor Emily Roberts, has her doctorate in environmental gerontology, a field that seeks to optimize the relationship between the elderly and their physical and social environment.

I learned from her that connection to the outdoors and nature can ease and prolong a person’s life, even if it’s just looking out the window from either a hospital bed or your own home. Having access physically or visually to nature is extremely beneficial to our well-being as we age.

The concept of biophilia, originally written

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The new Rose Garden is designed for a monarch.

A view of the recently renovated Rose Garden at the White House
The renovated Rose Garden.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In the patriarchal establishment that is the White House, care of the Rose Garden has long been entrusted to the lady of the house. Originally installed by Edith Roosevelt (wife of Theodore), the garden was redesigned by Ellen Axson Wilson and given its modern look by Jacqueline Kennedy. So it should not have come as a surprise when earlier this summer the White House announced that our current first lady, Melania Trump, would put her own personal stamp on the garden.

But when the revamped Rose Garden was opened to news media on Saturday, there was little in the new design to suggest a feminine touch. The exuberant flower beds, bursting with colors, were replaced by disciplined rows of green bushes interspersed with roses in muted pastels; the crab apple trees that had given both color and shade had been uprooted and removed, the central lawn now framed on three sides by a rigid rectangular limestone path. One of the White House’s most human enclosures had been replaced by a severe geometrical space of right angles and straight lines, all converging on the Oval Office—the seat of national power.

It’s hard to say how much Melania actually had to do with turning the Rose Garden into an advertisement for her husband’s vision of an imperial presidency. She may have been the driving force, even if the symbolism of the changes is so on-the-nose it could’ve been concocted by Republican strategists preparing for their national convention. What is clear is that the garden’s true designers were neither Melania nor anyone else working in the White House, but two men, both of them long dead: the master gardener André Le Nôtre and his patron, King Louis XIV.

For more than 40 years, beginning in 1661, Le Nôtre labored to create at Versailles the grandest and most imposing royal garden the world had ever seen. By the time of his death the grounds had become a geometrical world of precise angles, symmetry, and straight open avenues, all converging on the royal palace on the hill, and the king’s bedchamber at its heart. At Versailles, nothing was hidden from the king’s gaze, and his power reached instantly and unopposed to every corner of the land. It was an emblem of Louis’ ideal of royal absolutism, impressing both his subjects and foreign visitors with the Sun King’s unlimited power.

Despite its royal roots, a formal geometrical garden is hardly out of place in D.C. The city’s designer, after all, was a Frenchman, Pierre L’Enfant, who had learned his craft in the gardens of Louis XIV’s successors and imprinted the American capital with their feel and power. The National Mall, for example, with its broad straight avenues converging symmetrically on Capitol Hill, is resonant with echoes of Versailles. It is therefore no surprise that the Rose Garden, too, spreading out in front of the West Wing, has from the beginning incorporated formal elements in the French style.

Bill Clinton walks with Vicente Fox through the White House Rose Garden.
President Bill
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A Garden Designed to Run Wild

In “To the Small Celandine” (1815), William Wordsworth marvels at the itinerant nature of the flowering plant: “Careless of thy neighbourhood, / Thou dost show thy pleasant face / On the moor, and in the wood.” The ode is one of three the poet wrote to his favorite flower — commonly known as the lesser celandine or fig buttercup and recognizable for its glossy, egg-yolk-yellow blooms — which is also a persistent weed. This fact, that what some see as a flicker of natural brilliance is to others a nuisance to be removed, puts the lesser celandine, along with many other wildflowers, in a precarious position. And indeed, so many gardeners come down on the side of “nuisance” that to cultivate wildflowers purposely, to allow them to be the focus of one’s labors, even, is something of a rebellious act.

This is an idea that has captivated Caroline Kent, the founder of the British stationery company Scribble and Daub — which offers letterpress cards hand-drawn with vibrant pen-and-ink illustrations — ever since she first encountered the gardens at Great Dixter in East Sussex, England, an ongoing source of inspiration for her, almost a decade ago. The historic estate consists of a mid-15th-century timber-framed manor house that, in the early 20th century, the architect Edwin Lutyens, acting on commission from the house’s owner, Nathaniel Lloyd, combined with a 16th-century yeoman’s hall; Lutyens also laid out a six-acre garden. In 1954, Lloyd’s son Christopher, who had always loved working in the property’s garden with his mother, Daisy Lloyd, and who had recently been working as a lecturer in horticulture in Kent, returned to the family home to open a plant nursery on the grounds, which are now preserved by a trust. Working from Great Dixter until his death in 2006, Christopher became one of Britain’s most pre-eminent gardeners and garden writers — he completed 25 books and had a longstanding weekly column in Country Life magazine. He was known for his willingness to deviate from tradition, once telling the horticultural writer Rosemary Verey, “a garden is a garden [and] whether it looks English or not, I wouldn’t care.”

“Upon entering the property, you see stately York sandstone flags and an ancient gate,” says Kent. But then these elements give way to something wilder: In tension with the considered architecture of Lutyens’s gardens, done in an Arts and Crafts style consisting of a series of distinct “rooms,” Lloyd’s plantings are profuse, bold and joyfully informal — as he put it, there are “shrubs, climbers, hardy and tender perennials, annuals and biennials, all growing together and contributing to the overall tapestry.” He, along with his mother, until her death in 1972, also tended to the property’s various swaths of dedicated meadowland, from which, come the warmer months, wildflowers, including orchids, yellow rattle and buttercups, emerge at random. “Many traditional gardeners find it outrageous,” says Kent. (This is, after all, the same country where she once witnessed a neighbor trim the edges of a flower

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Keep Up With the Trends in an Appropriately Designed Bathroom for 2018

The intimacies of the bathroom activities at home call for more attention to the facilities and layout. Remember the early morning rushing, children bathing and the relaxed after work sessions in the tub. The family needs to feel good in there. Perhaps a refurbishment or updating is required to create a pleasant aura, complete with all the action that is needed. Check out a few trends coming your way in 2018.

Few tips on ornate brass fittings

Brass and gold belong to the 1980s but is being preferred nowadays. Perhaps you remember those days three decades and more ago. The truth is that tastes and fashions must return in a cyclic manner. The brass fittings now may not be as bold as they once were, a little muted perhaps. Brass does create that fancy effect to create a grand ambience. The brass blends well with the wooden countertops. Black and white floor tiles would provide a striking fun contrast.

Tiles designed as fish scales

They are also called mermaid tile designs and are getting popular now. This handy pattern fits in well wherever you wish to install it, but appears very attractive in bathrooms. You would love that quirky effect as an attractive accent wall or shower surrounds. Among several attractive shades, the aqua tint would remind of the ocean theme.

Circular mirrors
That expansive space promoted by large mirrors would get more dramatic with round vanity mirrors. The bathroom certainly acquires a contemporary feel with such an easy installation, the bigger the better.

Live plants around is a trend

The trendy live plants around the shower commenced in 2017 and continue into 2018. Use the imagination, spruce and freshen up the area with a few live green plants and not fake flowers! You certainly won't forget about watering them. Certain plants purify the atmosphere and choose and place them wisely.

Consider a unicolor set up

The monochromatic appearance has eternal appeal and is getting hot in 2018. Black and white could occur in several tones. Vintage or modern, arrange black and white accordingly. B / W could be lavish besides being industrial and could get as classy as you wish. Don't forget the ambiance created by the round mirror, the brass fixtures and a crystal chandelier perhaps.

Manage the space carefully and avoid making the bathroom too crowded. Wall installations of mirrors and cabinets would help manage space in congested bathrooms.

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