It’s 95 degrees and not quite noon. Just beyond the fence line in front of me is an expanse of dry, heat-drenched field, stretching south from the edge of Kansas City. Out there, it’s pure, unadulterated prairie land, flexing its draught-induced, mid-summer muscle.
Thankfully, my senses turn to the lush green lawn below my feet. The pleasant sounds of a bubbling brook attempt to quench my thirst as the sun beats down relentlessly.
There is a quaint little bridge over the brook filled with koi fish and water lilies, surrounded by plants, ornamental grasses, and stately rocks. “Some of the fish even have names,” says Kathy Rodden, the proud owner of this magnificent back yard. Her husband and sons are “passionate about the fish” and there is a state-of-the-art filter system tucked discretely on the side of the home to prove it.
Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.
Pink bougainvillea bloom vibrantly at shoulder height, and are potted and pruned to add a bit of formality to this cozy oasis. A few steps away, a grand stone fireplace, flanked by comfy furniture and complete with an electric rotisserie invites visitors to sit down and stay awhile.
The fireplace is wood burning to accommodate the homeowners, who hail from New England and appreciate a smoky fire in the pit. Rest and relaxation is the primary theme here, in lieu of a more polished, culinary and entertainment venue. The couple has lived in Kansas for years and Oklahoma before that. “But we’re Patriots at heart (referring to the football team) and we really like trees and woodlands,” says Rodden.
She looks forward to a wedding celebration for her son later this month, when family and friends can lounge here at home. This setting will beckon them outdoors, where they can recount events of the ceremony while counting the stars.
Despite the heat and parched earth beyond the fence, this intimate respite is alive with color, peaceful sounds, artful landscaping, and a gracious hostess.
Comfort by Design
The Roddens had basic requirements when they set out to convert a new yard with a concrete pad and little foliage to their very own garden paradise. But they were looking for an artful vision to complement their own. After acquiring a few different project bids and designs, they chose Jesse Meadows and his team at Rolling Meadows
Landscape to bring their prairie vision to life.
It appears they were a strong fit. “Kathy invited my family and employees for a gathering here to celebrate when we finished,” Jesse shared. The project took two months from design through completion last fall. The Roddens are so pleased they are discussing phase two of the project with Meadows–a pool with additional water features and diverse landscaping.
Meadows earned a degree in horticulture and design from Kansas State University. In addition to providing full-service residential and commercial landscaping and associated maintenance, he and his design team opened a garden center near 151st and Pflumm in 2011.
It offers a unique range of plants, tools, and services aimed at inspiring do-it-yourselfers, or to consult and assist in installation. The firm strives to support local growers and ensure eco-friendly gardening and design.
Its Garden Design and Retail Center also provides classes, guest speakers, an annual vendor showcase, and family events throughout the year. Summer classes have focused on container gardening for tropicals or carnivorous plants, to long-lasting hypertufa techniques. A Halloween fun fest and holiday wreath making are on the event list in coming months.
Back To the Prairie Paradise
There is a personal sense of place in the Rodden’s new outdoor living area, giving homage to the heartland, to New England, and to dreamy tropical getaways as well. Even Memphis, the dog, seems pleased to be hanging out in back with Kathy, while his owner, the soon-to-be-groom, prepares for the big day.
Hopefully, Memphis will leave those fish alone.