Orchestrating Beauty in Nature’s Design
Photographer Simon Hurst
It Was The Opinion Of Roman Statesman And Orator
Marcus Tullius Cicero That A Garden (In Addition To A Library)
Gave One All That Was Necessary In Life.
The backyard of Nancy Muenzler’s northwest metro home is precisely the kind of landscaped oasis that could lend credence to that idea; gently sloping down from a comfortably furnished back porch and culminating in a 35,000-gallon koi pond, this lovingly cultivated collection of streams, mini ponds and plant life is both a private haven and natural entertainment venue.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Water features (three ponds with contributory streams and several fountains) play a central
role in the mood of Nancy’s yard. A retractable awning over the bedroom patio’s deck allows
for control of the amount of sun or shade it receives, and glass sculptures,
available at The Greenhouse, add color when cold temps arrive.
“I’ve had anywhere from 85 to 100 people here at one time,” Nancy shares. “There are five seating areas, not including the hot tub. But this is where I am every evening.”
Nancy, who owns a retail nursery (The Greenhouse, in Norman) came to the home several years ago after marrying Dr. W. Stanley Muenzler (who passed away in 2013). She immediately began working her magic on the yards, transforming them from mere complements to viable extensions of the home itself.
Cheery orange nasturtiums and herbs line the stream in the spring, while a variety of trees, including Japanese red maple, yews, junipers and heavenly bamboo nandina,
compose a lush backdrop.
Despite challenges presented by drainage and the steep slope of the backyard, Nancy succeeded in creating a space both beautiful and useful, with individual, self-contained areas organized into a visually stunning whole. The sound of water trickling through the various conduits situated in the yard adds an aural depth to the atmosphere, making it almost impossible not to relax once you step outside.
Nancy laughs off suggestions that she’s a natural artist (“I was a finance major!”) but details like the Monet-inspired bridge that flanks the koi pond, and the Chihuly-esque glass sculptures that dot the various garden areas, are certainly reflections of personality; touches that Nancy insists anyone can emulate, in their own unique way.
The koi pond’s roomy deck is furnished with ’20s era furniture inherited from Nancy’s grandmother; mixed succulents are used as living accent pieces; the curved bridge
was constructed by Norman builder Rick Green (who also built the gazebo, drainage deck
and built-in deck tables) and links two seating areas.
“You just have to find what you like.”
Much of the yard’s design was a product of necessity; true to Nancy’s advice to try and work with what you’ve been given, she coordinated the koi pond’s construction and the lower yard’s plantings with natural shade provided by several large willows and cottonwoods.
“This was a streambed – not every yard is going to have this to work with.” Nancy explains. “All of these things need this shade. When we sculpted and started creating the steps, it was all based on these trees.”
A visual treat awaits you no matter where you’re standing; the view from the bedroom
area deck rewards the eye with dots of color from glass sculptures in the greenery.
That isn’t to say that Nancy’s approach and results are strictly the product of pragmatism; she confesses that her overall vision wasn’t something she was willing to compromise for the sake of ease.
Nancy’s back porch living area rivals many of its indoor counterparts; although she and her husband had originally envisioned an outdoor kitchen, Nancy says that reality dictated revising the plan to a comfy place to relax and watch football games. “There are,” Nancy says, “a lot of restaurants in Oklahoma City, after all.”
“I have friends who are landscape architects and I asked a couple of them, ‘What would you do [about the original brush-filled yard filled with poison ivy and brambles, with little more than a ditch at the bottom for drainage]? ’ – and the response was, ‘Grass it.’ I said, ‘Sorry, that’s not happening.’”
Nancy’s patio houses five citrus trees, contained in large buckets, which winter in her greenhouse.
So while it’s definitely a paean to the principle of working with natural features of an outdoor space, Nancy’s beautifully orchestrated slice of open-air heaven is also a testament to the dedication of its designer.
“If you’re going to do something, do it well.”