A Garden Sanctuary: How One Indoor Person Became An Outdoor Enthusiast

By October 21, 2015 People in Profile
A Garden Sanctuary: How One Indoor Person Became An Outdoor Enthusiast

What if you knew that no matter your trials and tribulations, you always had a special place to relax, rejuvenate, meditate, reflect… someplace that suited you perfectly, a sanctuary built just for you?

Would you get through long days with more of a spring in your step? Would you look forward to your “me time”? Or maybe you’d trade that expensive (and exhausting!) vacation for a peaceful staycation.

These are the feelings we love to elicit in our clients, and one of our clients, the delightful and warmly charming Bonnie Strain, is the perfect example of how our vision can come together with our clients’ dreams to create the perfect outdoor living space.

This is the story of how an outdoor space can be exactly what you dreamed of – and even more than you could possibly dream. This is Bonnie’s story, and by her own words it was “life changing.”

We spoke with her recently about her outdoor living style and the journey she took to achieve the sanctuary she so desired.

“I Wanted A Place Of Serenity And Tranquility.”

It didn’t take much to get Bonnie talking about her dream space! We kicked things off by asking her to recap the work GROUNDS KEEPER had done for her. The rest flowed like poetry throughout a nearly 40 minute conversation.

bonnie strain flowersFrom the start, Bonnie had a vision of her own private sanctuary, a place she could go to relax, meditate and enjoy the garden. In her own words…

I wanted a spot that would offer me serenity, but I didn’t really know how to define it. I spent years as a missionary in Thailand and I fell in love with their ponds where they had the beautiful water lilies. It amazed me how Jay and Craig were able to develop a plan just from our conversation.”

Then again, it wasn’t a single conversation. It happened over time, as Bonnie worked with Jay and Craig to fully envision her dream space. And it wasn’t always something they agreed on.

“I Was Not Interested In Having Fish.”

If this all sounds a little idyllic, you may be surprised to learn that Bonnie and GROUNDS KEEPER didn’t always see eye to eye.

I was not interested in having fish,” Bonnie confesses. “But as GROUNDS KEEPER was helping me with my vision, they explained to me that I needed to make the pond ecologically sound, which meant we should have fish.”

If you’ve ever worked with Jay then this should sound familiar! He loves to expand on his clients’ visions and help them achieve things they never imagined.

But Bonnie didn’t want fish. Even though Jay’s reasoning was sound, it could very well have backfired if Bonnie ended up dissatisfied. In the end, Jay convinced her, but was it worth it? Does this story have a happy ending?

I was very reluctant to get the fish but let me tell you, it’s so amusing to watch them. I never thought that I would enjoy observing these fish. I’ve realized one is the Alpha Male…”

Bonnie considers this for a moment and then laughs…

Or maybe the Boss Lady,” she amends. “The other two fish follow that one. It’s amazing to watch the dynamic going on with these three.”

bonnie strain pondA happy ending indeed, but there’s a unique epilogue. Turns out Bonnie is not only charming but she is also creative. She’s got more planned than just fish-watching.

I’m having a reveal party with my family and I’m going to let the kids name the fish. It’s another way to inspire socialization and get the family together. Jay was absolutely right when he said people will love the fish. At my age I don’t have toys to play with anymore but I can invite family and friends over who have children and now I have a fish pond. The kids don’t want to go to some boring house.”

“There Are Endless Possibilities.”

For something she didn’t want, Bonnie is a real convert when it comes to her fish and that’s exactly the result we want to achieve.

In this case we were fortunate to work with someone who has an incredible imagination and an ability to take a vision and let it flower.

But we wonder, what if there are more children than fish? Will she let each child name the fish, or will she insist each fish only have one name?

Bonnie thinks about this for a moment and comes up with an ingenious solution.

I worked as a missionary in Korea and everyone there has a Korean name and an English name. So there’s an opportunity where people can give the fish a Korean name or even a nickname. My Spanish friends can give them a Spanish name. I’m also going to set up some art supplies so people can draw pictures of the fish. There are endless possibilities for what the children can do. Maybe I’ll even let grown ups do it.”

If you haven’t noticed by now, Bonnie also has a serious sense of humor!

“It’s Been So Rewarding To Have This Experience.”

Few things are as satisfying as seeing the smile on a client’s face at the conclusion of a project. But there’s more to a project than just the end result. It’s an entire experience, from conceptualization through master planning and execution. And for some clients, this can be a years-long process, or even a lifetime process!

So for everyone involved, the journey is just as important as the end result. And for Bonnie, the journey was certainly part of the fun.

We did what we would call Phase 1 and Phase 2. The architect designed something for the entire property, which included extending the deck, adding a patio and a provision for a pool in the future. They give you such beautiful plans. Between Craig and Jay and the guys who worked here, they were really great and so nice. It’s a wonderful relationship.”

And the end result?

Right now I have the most beautiful waterfall. You walk over a stone bridge that goes over the water and then there’s the pond with the fish. Then there’s the patio area and there is a bubbler, and in the evening the light shines on the red ceramic and it looks like it’s on fire. It’s beautiful and the birds love it. They put a beautiful pergola so we can train some plants like wisteria to grow and make it like a little room so you have a real sense of privacy. My property abuts the golf course so the garden gives you a sense of peace while everyone else is playing golf. I’ve always been an indoor person and now I can’t wait to get out there.”

bonnie strain pergola“I’m So Happy I Followed Jay’s Advice And Recommendations.”

Bonnie speaks about her oasis in almost deferential tones and it’s clear that this self-described “indoor person” is a nature lover after all. But what about the rest of her experience? How did that hold up against this idyllic backdrop?

It wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t have Jay talking to me all the time – ‘Bonnie, I think you would really enjoy this or I think you would want that.’ He knows how to translate things.”

So what did Jay think she wanted? (We know it wasn’t fish!)

I’m a classic music lover and I love opera and I like the classics. Jay said, ‘Bonnie, you would really like the music.’ So now I have outdoor speakers. There’s nothing like being out there and turning it on. Fortunately my neighbors like classical music, too, so I’ve been turning it up. It’s become the focus of the neighborhood.”

Bonnie’s humor shines through again.

My daughter thinks she is going to listen to Led Zeppelin and I said, “No way!” She doesn’t realize that the person who has the iPhone with Pandora has the power and I’m never going to relinquish it.”

“It’s Become More Than A Sanctuary For Me.”

Listening to Bonnie share the story of how her space came into being has been entertaining, amusing and gratifying. But we want to know whether her original vision of having a sanctuary has been realized.

This idea of having a sanctuary – it’s become more so much more than a sanctuary for me. I have my own park. But more than that I have a new life.”

It’s not every day that we hear words so incredibly heartwarming and humbling. And we’re delighted and honored to have been part of the experience and the journey.

bonnie strain bubblerMy garden doesn’t look like anything else in the neighborhood. I’ve been going out there to have dinner, listening to music. Now that it’s Fall, I’m just going to bundle up to go out. I bought a box of hot chocolate so when people come by we can sit outside and have a cup of hot chocolate. This gives me an avenue where I can entertain, have a discussion and solve the world’s problems.”

And knowing Bonnie, she will do just that – with a little inspiration from the fish!

Did Bonnie’s story inspire you? Would you like to know how you can turn an everyday back yard into your own private park, garden, sanctuary and entertaining space? Let’s talk!