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Promoting nature-based, toxic-free land care practices for the health of people, their pets, and the planet.

PRFCT Transformations: Brian’s Garden

Brian Sawyer garden

“The garden has been an adventure,” says Brian Sawyer, co-founder and partner of the award-winning, multi-disciplinary design firm Sawyer | Berson. When he bought the property seven years ago, the yard of his Bellport, NY, home consisted of an uninspired lawn and basic foundation plantings. But Brian saw potential. From the start, he knew he wanted a PRFCT garden—one that was toxic-free and nature-based. He carved out geometric beds and filled them with loose plantings, including many native varieties, such as an array of monarch-loving milkweed, ironweed, and Coreopsis, which “made a nice, low cloud of yellow” in the beds. He transformed the dull space into a richly layered wonderland that now brims with flora and fauna, including “twice the number of birds and a ten-fold increase in insects” since he first bought the property.

As every gardener knows, a garden is never complete—and is always unpredictable. Brian is already thinking about the changes he will make later this year. He plans to add more native Rudbeckia, noting that it “works better mixed with other meadow perennials and grasses and less as a stand-alone.” He loved the beebalm (also a favorite of bees, as you might guess) when it bloomed in July but learned that he had to pair it with something that would flower when it began to fade. He discovered that hollyhocks resent the humidity of Long Island and don’t like wet feet, the Joe Pye weed grew much taller than expected, and he rejoiced at the native Lobelia, which was “really robust and flowered most of the season.” “What’s been the most rewarding is the learning experience,” says Brian. “There’s much to edit this coming year, but that’s all part of the fun.” Learn more about the principles of nature-based gardening.

All photos by Brian Sawyer.