French and Fantastic

Who says you need to live in France to have an ultimate French backyard?


By: Caren Baginski

Who says you need to live in France to have an ultimate French backyard? Landscape architect Tom Oslund designed this reflecting pool and adjacent perennial garden in Orono, Minn., as an extension of a French country chateau. The homeowners swim nearly every day and enjoy entertaining, so the design is functional, beautiful and very French.

Completed over the course of a year, Oslund says the biggest challenge was an impending wedding date in June. "We constructed a metal shed over the whole area so we could continue to work during the winter months," he says. The shed provided a consistent temperature and allowed workers to work on the pool area, even through snow.

The pool doubles as a play space and a calm, peaceful getaway, with a removable diving board which can be extended into the 14-foot deep end. The patio granite was imported from Saudi Arabia because of the homeowners' preference for color.

The granite continues into the pool house. Taking inspiration from the Musée de l'Orangerie, the pool house retains a glassy, open feel through skylights and indoor plants. A very formal dining room incorporates painted, articulated wood paneling. There are showers and bathrooms for both genders.

Nearby, 16 little leaf lindens were pleached, or pruned, to resemble a rectangular hedge on stilts — much like the trees along the Champs-Élysées in Paris.



An expansive, circular lawn to the right of the pool holds parties for up to 250, and a custom tent can be erected to provide shade. The perennial/annual gardens that surround the lawn include 70 to 80 plants that bloom at different times through spring, summer and fall. In winter, the six-foot 'Techny' arborvitae hedge offers color and structure. Beyond this area, some 180 to 200 trees were planted on the property's eight-plus acres.

Pricetag: Unmentionably expensive



Landscape Architect:
Landscape architect Tom Oslund (FASLA, FAAR) is the founder and design director of Oslund and Associates, which has offices in Minneapolis and Chicago. Oslund has more than 20 years of experience as a landscape architect. His firm's portfolio includes a wide array of public and private projects, including a 5,000-square-foot private rooftop garden.

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