Labor of Love

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Text By Katie Wood / Photography by John O’Hagan

Landscape architect creates an outdoor oasis right outside his front door.

According to Merrie Loper, having a gorgeous garden is just one of the benefits of being married to a landscape architect. “I am fortunate that our home is a reflection of his passion for beautiful gardens and the love of outdoors,” she says of her husband, Jim.

When planning their garden, which is continually growing and changing, the couple works together to beautify their space and create an environment where guests and family are comfortable. “We are always moving from one spot to another, walking the property, seeing what is there, talking about what to do next, and just loving being part of a beautiful day together,” Merrie says.

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As a landscaping professional, Jim’s signature style is his hardscaping. Merrie says he enjoys combining materials to create a foundation for their landscape design with beautiful walkways, patios, and walls. The front yard is home to a walled English garden with brick-bordered gravel paths and different flowers each spring and summer.

When it comes to flowers, the Lopers enjoy a riotous garden with overlapping foliage comprised of various colors and textures. “We love the full, overgrown look of abundance,” she says, noting flowers like geraniums, lacy ferns, creeping Jenny, limelight hydrangea, tall foxglove, black-eyed Susans, asters, candy tuft, and more grow freely in the garden, claiming every available space.

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In addition to the front garden, the Lopers’ patio boasts a peaceful retreat complete with a charming white bench to take in the botanical views beneath the vine-covered arbor. A row of Nellie R. Stevens Hollies serves as a border and provides privacy for late afternoon meals.

And while the Lopers enjoy lunch on the patio, they are able to sit and watch turtles climb the banks of the backyard pond outlined in water lilies, arrowhead lilies and Louisiana irises. “As Jim has time, more projects will be completed,” Merrie says, “But for now we are happy to live here surrounded by his labor of love.”

For more information about Jim’s landscaping business, visit jloperco.com.

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Merrie says her style is always evolving.  She painted the wicker furniture with ten cans of spray paint after seeing an outdoor patio set in a magazine. “Some of the pieces I have had for a long time,” she says. “We are always changing the sitting arrangement, and when my sisters visit, everything is up for grabs!”

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Bass and bluegill swim in the backyard pond and are a delight to the Lopers’ grandchildren who hand feed them.

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