Don't Hide the House

Keeping the plantings simple and low shows off this beautifully designed home.
Steve Bender

My doctor just called with the news. At last I know what’s been plaguing me ever since I stood upon a brick walk in Lafayette, Louisiana, and stared ahead at that incredible porch. I have serious house envy.

The dwelling I covet belongs to Thomas and Lisa Chance. More than 20 years ago, they had the good fortune to move into a home designed by the South’s most iconic architect, A. Hays Town. Known for his wide, deep porches and mastery of style and proportion, Mr. Town created elegant, livable spaces that seamlessly married indoors and outdoors.

Now, had Thomas and Lisa done what most folks do, they’d have “anchored” their prized house to the yard by planting a scraggly buffet of gargantuan bushes in front. Fortunately, landscape architect Ted Viator helped them find a better way.

A Different Approach
A lone crepe myrtle graces the turn of the front walk. The planting beneath the porch consists of only three different plants: a row of soft liriope in front; white caladiums in the middle; and glossy, deep green dwarf sasanqua camellias in the back.

Such simplicity makes plant care easy. Plus, the cool colors are welcome in the heat of summer and match those used on the porch. Most importantly, the understated display doesn’t compete with the home. The house is the picture; the planting is the frame. Because the plants are low, the porch and front yard can function together as one space.

The Cure
“I live on our front porch,” declares Lisa. “It’s an extension of our living space―and my spot to read the paper or step away from the phones.” Speaking of phones, I’m expecting a call from the doctor any minute. He’s writing a prescription for jealousy pills.

 

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