Green Retreat in the Midst of the City by Jacques van Leuken

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If you don’t have a country estate, this is the next best thing: a serene space in the midst of the city by Dutch landscaper Jacques van Leuken — what he calls “a green oasis in the urban desert.” You get an immediate “oasis” feel from the waves of grass carpeting the incline between front entrance and driveway; the home itself blends in with garden colors, in its low-lying façade and wood grain and brick finishes that harmonize so well with its surroundings. Of course, not all of this is exactly as Mother Nature put it together: the sculpted topiary shrubs don’t happen without a little careful planting! The same holds true for the back yard space, with its fern-edged pond and cozy benches tucked in the midst of dappled shade.

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This water feature isn’t an expansive lap pool, a glass-lined spa, or a combination of the two; it’s a spot made for water lilies and native plants. But it’s also not without its neat little “extras,” in the form of sculptured water birds poised for flight over a bubbling fountain that sends restful ripples to every edge. A pristine white stone deck runs the length of the house along the back, holding a bevy of tall shining planters next to the sliding glass doors and expanding to an alfresco entertaining area at one end. Yes, there’s nothing like a true country estate for total relaxation…but this oasis in a city yard comes close, thanks to the skilled pairing of nature and nurture by Jacques van Leuken.

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