Now Playing

English Jewel Box

A diminutive garden in Glencoe quietly enchants.

1923 English revival home in Glencoe

What once was a nondescript yard defined by rambling buckthorn and a dog run is now a private, tranquil paradise that perfectly complements Carol and Steve Beitlers’ English home in Glencoe. To transform the garden, the couple enlisted the help of landscape architect Sara Furlan, a 25-year veteran with Mariani Landscape.

“My goal was to design a place of nourishment, a calming place to be,” explains Furlan. “The part that really sings for me is the back garden, looking across the lawn from the terrace. The symmetry really resonates with people. Design and human nature are all about scale and proportion.”

Case in point, the new gardens were created to provide symmetry and enchanting views from every window of the recently renovated 1923 English revival residence. Inviting garden rooms surround the house, making use of an understated palette of deep greens, blues and white. Whimsical features, such as a wrought iron gate at the side of the house leading to intimate gardens lined by gravel pathways and neatly clipped boxwood hedges, add a charming touch.

An English fountain introduces soothing sound to the surroundings, while numerous planters dot the landscape with topiary plantings showcasing splashes of color and change. Standard lilacs anchor the space, providing enticing fragrance each spring.

Of particular note, an 18th century French urn, filled with creatively arranged and beautifully cascading colors of the season, stands out as the storied crown jewel in the captivating garden.

The gorgeous relic seemed to follow Carol Beitler as she first spied it, freshly out of its crate, at the Woodstock garden shop of Kimball & Bean. When it later popped up at the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Antiques and Garden Fair, she knew it was calling her name.

Furlan set the prized metal urn atop a custom limestone plinth at the edge of an expanse of lawn, just in front of a hornbeam backdrop flanked by delicate star magnolias. This vignette is still Carol Beitler’s favorite in a magnificent garden chock-full of interesting features that make the most of limited space.

An expansive bluestone terrace bordered by a fieldstone wall provides a welcome spot for entertaining, complete with a custom copper-topped fireplace and a casual outdoor dining space with spectacular views of the gardens.

Moving to the front of the house, an inviting drive court (heated for winter convenience, so snow plows won’t ruin the brick inlay) is flanked by brick and limestone piers, and surrounded and softened by crab apples, massed boxwood clipped into spherical orbs, and hydrangeas.

“I still can’t get over the transformation,” says Carol Beitler of her maturing garden. “The team I had was sensational; I can’t say enough. Sara did such an amazing job. She turned the property into a little jewel.”