These Gardens & Outdoor Living Spaces of Asheville Landscape Designers Refresh The Mind And Restore The Spirit

Posted on | February 13, 2015 | No Comments

Spending time in a lush, tranquil garden is such a perfect way to refresh the mind and restore the spirit. There really is no joy quite like wandering down a quaint garden path and watching the colorful flowers nod in the breeze – especially if that garden path leads through your very own backyard. The team at Gardens For Living, a leading Asheville area landscaping company, has been helping clients create their dream gardens for three generations. North Carolina Design sat down with founder John Phillips, his son Shane Phillips, and landscape designer Marobeth Ruegg to find out more about their design philosophy, and highlight a few notable projects.

Images Courtesy of Gardens For Living ©

“We have no aspiration to have the biggest landscaping company,” Shane begins. “Our goal is simply to install the very best gardens in North Carolina.” John agrees, saying “Quality is our absolute highest priority. We want to create something that endures. Not just a landscape, but a garden that is passed down to our clients’ children and their grandchildren. We have clients who have been with us for 25 years, and it is such a thrill to see their gardens grow and evolve.”

Gardens for Living also prides itself in infusing each project with artistry and a sense of place. “What we do is almost like architecture,” notes Marobeth. “We create outdoor rooms, with open spaces, closed spaces, and dark spaces. We want moving through each space to be an experience, and we want the garden to have an almost magical quality to it – a quality that makes people happier, just by spending time there.”

One project that exemplifies Gardens for Living’s design philosophy is a stunning two-acre mountaintop garden known as the Carroll property. “The client was a very busy man, with a very high-stress job that took him all over the world,” reflects John. “He wanted a garden that reminded him of England. He also wanted the opportunity to come to his mountain home and either stroll throughout the property on pleasant pathways, or sit in the garden and either read or enjoy the scenery.”

“He loved color,” adds Shane. “So we added as many colorful things along the pathways as we could – native wisteria, flowering shrubs and trees, and all sorts of flowering perennials, like bleeding hearts and giant allium.” The garden features several touches that make it truly distinctive, like the use of heavy timber and stone, which reflect architectural elements in the client’s home, and the exquisite pergola, which could fit seamlessly in with a 19th-century English garden.

Another Gardens for Living project, the Jones Fire Pit, won the recognition of the North Carolina Homebuilders Association when it was named 2014’s Best Outdoor Living Area. One of the factors that made this particular outdoor space so exceptional was the site itself.

“The only option for the fire pit site was the side of a very steep hill,” John explains. “We carved a little space into the slope to accommodate it. The site’s slope gave us some unique options for retaining walls. We decided to use large boulders – they create visual impact, but still blend effortlessly with the natural mountain landscape.” Meanwhile, the fire pit’s stone sunburst configuration serves as a stunning centerpiece that pulls the entire space together.

John sums up his team’s passion for creating outdoor spaces for his clients. “It’s not about arranging plants for them,” he says. “It’s about giving them back something the modern world is missing – a connection with the land, and the joy that that connection brings into a person’s life. That’s what has kept us going all these years.”

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