Landscape Escapes

Four Seasons

Who: Designer Lynn Cavanaugh, of Four Seasons Garden Center & Custom Landscape Services (the garden center is in Oak Park, while design studios are based in Birmingham and Traverse City), has been collaborating with Four Seasons clients and ensuring landscape installations are executed down to the last detail since 2004. An experienced metalsmith, Cavanaugh’s appreciation for the natural world made the transition to a career in landscape design simple. With an associate degree in applied science in landscape design and her background in art, Cavanaugh’s contributions to the Four Seasons team have been tremendous, and she has twice been the featured landscape designer on HGTV’s Rehab Addict. In 2014, she won the Unilock Award of Excellence, and she has been included in the Unilock Project showcase because of her innovative design.

Info: (248) 543-4400,

When interviewing interior designer Annie Kordas for this issue’s Bravo page, I couldn’t help but take away some tips that struck me deeply. As I typed her thoughts about wanting to uncover a treasure trove of paintings in her client’s basement, it seemed like she was sharing solutions for my own art challenges.“They had this insane art in their basement. I told them they were sitting on a gold mine!” Kordas shared with me. The subject matter of the original artwork ranged from people and landscapes to hunting scenes. Kordas dusted off, reframed, and artfully hung (gallery-style) the fascinating collection on a wall in the couple’s sitting room.When Kordas referred to the collection as a “gold mine,” she was speaking figuratively, as in having good design opportunities and pulling together a great display using meaningful, heirloom items in a traditional-with-a-twist look.My mind continued to wander later on, remembering what she’d said. I think I’m sitting on a gold mine, too, I thought to myself, contemplating some of the items I inherited when my siblings and I sold my parents’ home a few years back.One of my favorite paintings from my parents’ home is now in my possession, but it’s been out of sight and out of mind for a few years. I had relegated it to a spot on the basement floor, leaning up against other forgotten paintings, because it just didn’t seem to fit anywhere in my home. An original watercolor framed in old barn wood, the painting, by late Flint-area artist Rudy LaRiviere, had gone from center stage in a busy home to a stack of rejects on the floor, with its front facing a wall. And yet, this countryside snow scene is no reject! Dramatic skies, freshly fallen snow, a charming mailbox, a captivating distant tree line — lovely! My mom and dad had adored this painting, yet I couldn’t seem to find a place to hang it.As the days passed, Kordas’ “gold mine of art” phrase continued to swirl around in my thoughts. That’s when I remembered a bronze replica of a Frederic Remington sculpture called Cheyenne. The piece, featuring a mighty Native American riding a fierce horse, had held court in my family’s living room while I was growing up. Now it sits in my unfinished basement, not far from Fedra, a white alabaster — or is it marble? — bust of a woman that graced the top of our shiny-black piano and always seemed to smile at me. The elegant lady, with the bunned hair and her carved-in name, is a super-heavy sculpture that had been my musical companion since I was a young girl learning to play the piano. I didn’t know anything about her. Yet when the time came to distribute items from my parents’ collection, I wanted Fedra. Today, poor Fedra also sits in my basement, and I only notice her when I’m looking for, say, giftwrap or for a stashed-away box of Easter décor.This must stop, I thought to myself. It’s time for the “gold mine” to surface!First up, the Rudy LaRiviere painting, which I’ve decided to hang in our new guest room (my husband and I officially became empty-nesters last May, and we now have a real guest room). As for the Remington replicate? It’s got a spot right beneath the painting. I’m not sure about Fedra yet. Perhaps in the garden? Better outdoors in the elements, where I’ll see her often, than hidden away in the basement.And lest you think I’m the only one sitting on a “gold mine,” my other half also has his dust-collecting favorites. After purchasing several original animal paintings during a trip in Africa a few years ago, he’s trying to decide which wall he’ll finally hang them on. Yes, the lion, giraffe, elephant, and zebra are all rolled up, tucked in a tube, awaiting tender loving care and a special place in which to be adored. Off to Milford’s Main Street Art we went, to see what the expert framing folks there could dream up for our animal collection. Any day now, that wild theme will awaken our family room vibe.It feels good to uncover, dust off, frame or reframe, and finally display these meaningful pieces.They say if walls could talk, you’d hear all kinds of intriguing this-and-that on what goes on in a home. I say, if paintings and artwork could talk, it would be even more interesting. I’m betting our recently added pieces, once forgotten — as well as those that now grace Kordas’ client’s sitting room — would say thank you!

“The homeowner really dislikes bugs, so the landscape is defined by clean lines and green foliage that (doesn’t attract) insects.” — Lynn Cavanaugh

Clean & Serene: The Goal Was to Simplify

“The expansive Bloomfield Hills property (photo above), was an experience in good intentions that resulted in a mishmash of unrelated and conventional areas,” designer Lynn Cavanaugh says. “The previous design included a … fence around the pool area, but the fence didn’t work because the arrangement left them feeling cut off from the yard. We replaced walkways with Unilock Richcliff and the pool deck with Unilock Umbriano. We also replaced the chipped stamped concrete patio. It’s now a clean and serene gathering place for the family.”

Landscaper’s Tip: ”Determine who will be using the space and (what) the (purpose of the) space will be,” Cavanaugh says. “The goal is a seamless transition, where everything works together and no element looks like it wasn’t always there. A couple I know looks forward to that moment every evening when they have returned from work and can … unwind and engage with each other in their new outdoor living space. ‘We treat the garden like it’s an extension of our home,’ they say, ‘a room with a ceiling made of sky.’ ”

Boxwood Border: “A landscaped space requires maintenance to stay healthy and beautiful,” Cavanaugh says, like the trimmed/sculpted boxwood shown at right. “Professional services should include appropriate pruning, fertilizing, and refreshing,” she adds. “A full range of maintenance services will keep the property looking perfectly polished and maintain the original design intent.”

Simply Perfect: You can’t go wrong with simplicity, says Cavanaugh. “An unglazed clay or terra-cotta pot like this one is harmonious with every flower and foliage color,” she says.

Classic Planter: Campania International Williamsburg Chippendale planter (right), Alpine stone, $280, Four Seasons Garden Center, “It’s classic with clean lines, like this patio (shown above),” Cavanaugh says.


R. Youngblood & Co.

Who: As the president of Rochester-based R. Youngblood & Co., Ryan Youngblood has cultivated a passion for horticulture and design into a thriving landscape design and build firm. For the past 18 years, his company has taken pride in being a “single-source responsibility” — meaning the design team handles everything from site planning services to installation and management, including maintenance and upkeep. R. Youngblood & Co. has won numerous awards, including two Detroit Home Design Awards in 2010 and 2013.

Info: 248-650-1990,

“For good design, work with masses. Keep your plant selections to a minimum and use them with impact. The end result is calming and less busy.” — Ryan Youngblood

Up North at Home: The Goal Was to “Get Away”

The owners of this Oakland Township property (photo above) wanted a northern escape, Ryan Youngblood explains, but their professions in the medical field didn’t allow them enough time to get away. “My goal was to create a space for them that would make them feel as if they had stepped into a northern destination,” he says. Overlooking a pond, the outdoor space makes for a nice area for conversation; it’s nestled among natural plantings and features a fireplace as the centerpiece. “Here, they can enjoy nearly all the senses of a northern getaway.”

Daisy Days: “The shasta daisies (shown above) are  strong performers,” Youngblood says, “and always are great in combination with purple coneflowers and black-eyed Susans. Between the three, and in perfect sequence, the garden will have color late June through August. Leave the spent flowers for winter interest.”

Oh, Canada: “The Canadian hemlock (above) is a lush and graceful evergreen,” Youngblood says. “It’s one of a slim few that will be happy in shade. It serves well as a screen or backdrop.”

Fired Up: A hammered copper fire pit (like the one above), $320, Target, metro-area stores,“Consider lighting effects from items like a fire pit when designing a space. Include elements that are visually strong and can then become nighttime focal points,” Youngblood suggests.


Left: The Annabelle hydrangea variety is classic and elegant in every aspect —  it’s always a showstopper! And it’s also proved to be hardy,” Youngblood says.

Right: Belgard Arbel in fossil beige, $8/square foot, Haley Stone,,“The patio pavers were selected to allow for a natural feel, but to be functional and usable,” Youngblood explains.

Left: Unique Lighting’s Mercury 7, $232/ea., John Deere Landscapes, Livonia, “Lighting extends the usability of the space far beyond sunset and adds greatly to the experience of the space,” Youngblood says. “Unique Lighting was used because of its high-quality brass fixtures.”

Right: “Blue salvia blooms throughout summer — and it’s forgiving, if you miss a watering,” Youngblood says. Tellys,