When Jeff Lightbody was designing a new landscape around his century-old home in Boise, he didn't set out to create a pair of gardens with two personalities. But that's what happened: The front yard wears the demure façade of classic formality, while the backyard evokes a whimsical flair. Yet both gardens combine cold-hardy plants to form a seamless brocade around the house.
Lightbody, a former landscape designer, chose foliage to provide the main visual interest, with flowers as a seasonal bonus. In the front yard, an entry path is flanked by sweeps of groundcovers, ferns, ornamental grasses, and shrubs nestled around basalt boulders, with a few perennial flowers used as accents. River birches ― with their flaking, cinnamon-colored bark ― stand as sentinels on either side of the front steps. Lightbody likes to prune the low branches of the tall, deciduous trees to "show off their naked legs," he jokes.
In the 1,250-square-foot backyard are three sitting areas ― spaces that are defined by fences, walls, and "floors" made of wood decking and pea gravel. Lightbody uses the vertical surfaces for displaying collectibles.
To get a sense of Lightbody's whimsical taste in garden decor, drop by his shop, Epitome Home and Garden (closed Sun; 121 N. Fifth St., Boise; 208/333-0123).