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Tualatin River inspires landscape design

Kathleen McDonald and Arnie Peterson plan to host weddings in their oasis


by: REVIEW, TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Kathleen McDonald and Arnie Peterson bought this home in 2007 and were married in the backyard in 2008. They plan to rent the space for weddings of 120 people.Kathleen McDonald dreams of old Mediterranean gardens and the sun setting in Tuscany. Thanks to help from her husband, Arnie Peterson — a retired forester — McDonald has designed this little heaven-on-earth right in her own backyard.

The West Linn resident and Keller Williams real estate agent has combined the ruins of the old world with contemporary flare in the backyard of their home on Swift Shore Drive in West Linn. The couple purchased the home in 2007.

“I walked straight through the house, saw the river, turned around and said, ‘OK,’ ” McDonald said, referring to the Tualatin River rapids that bubble and streak next to the back lawn.

The couple were married at the home in 2008. Back then, the space was merely a slab of grass, sparsely landscaped with rhododendrons and vine maple trees. The couple has since spent the last six years transforming the 12,000-square-foot outdoor space.

by: REVIEW, TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Kathleen McDonald is a real estate agent with Keller Williams. The fountain was a gift from a client. “It was love at first sight,” McDonald said. “He’s a plant person just like I am. ... I do the design but he does all the labor.”

The transformation began immediately. The first day after the property closed, Peterson was up on a ladder removing limbs that smothered the backyard and blanketed the ground. When he finished, a breathtaking view of the river cast affront the backdrop of Pete’s Mountain appeared.

Over time, a few hours here and there on the weekends, the couple dug up the lawn, trimmed trees and designed curvilinear raised flowerbeds.

“We wanted everything to emphasize the river,” McDonald said, pointing to the granite bench that faces the river, enticing visitors to sit. “It’s all about the river.

An archway with metal swifts — a bird sculpture from her nephew by: REVIEW, TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Artist Jay Moody from Jagged Edge Studio welded the black iron fences and railing that frame the porch and corral the dogs in the yard.Devin Laurence Field, the famed contemporary sculptor — frames the river. Cozy couches and wicker chairs — eight little outdoor living rooms and vignettes in all — face the water. The backyard boasts about 10 birdbaths, colorful potted planters, wooden candlelit chandeliers and an antique fountain with two doughy cherubs.

“In the spring it’s all bulbs,” McDonald said. “It’s tulips everywhere, it’s just color, color, color. In the summer, everything blooms.”

In the fall, shrubs like the Doublefile Viburnum — McDonald’s favorite — cast the lawn in rusty orange and red hues. Just two months ago, they created a sprawling deck and barbeque nook that hugs the backside of the home.

by: REVIEW, TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - The concrete and flagstone pathways were installed in what McDonald calls a 'ruin affect.'Next to the barbeque, a metal blue heron sculpture from Devin Laurence Field seemingly flies over ahead. The couple uses a white shabby chic washtub sink as a wet bar, and on cold nights they curl up with friends around the outdoor fireplace.

Artist Jay Moody from Jagged Edge Studio welded the black iron fences and railing that frame the porch and corral the dogs in the yard. The concrete and flagstone pathways were installed in what McDonald calls a “ruin affect.”

The couple plans to renovate the front lawn in a similar fashion this winter. Soon, they hope to create a virtual tour and share the beautiful oasis they’ve created with guests — wedding parties to be precise. The couple has already hosted two weddings at the space. They plan to become a destination location for weddings of about 120 people.

“We just want to share the space because getting married here was such a wonderful experience for us,” McDonald said.

by: REVIEW, TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - The archway with metal swifts was designed by contemporary sculpture Devin Laurence Field.

by: REVIEW, TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - The Tualatin River rapids that bubble and streak next to the back lawn.




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