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Garden Visit: At Home with Maria Dremo Sundström in Sweden

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Garden Visit: At Home with Maria Dremo Sundström in Sweden

January 19, 2016

The winters are long in southern Sweden, so when homeowner Maria Dremo Sundström decided five years ago to undertake a “total remake” of her garden, her goal was to create a landscape that would look as beautiful covered in snow as in springtime.

“A lot of the time we have bare ground in winter,” says Maria, who documented the garden’s transformation on her blog, Almbacken. “So I worked with structure, planting hedges in various heights, trees with interesting trunks, gloves of boxwood, taxus, privet, and spirea.”

The result is one of the loveliest winter gardens we’ve seen, with strong shapes delineated under a coating of snow and colors heightened by a glaze of ice.

As sturdy as it is beautiful, the garden stands up to family life (Maria and her husband have four children, two small dogs, and plans to add a greenhouse). We were thrilled when Maria offered to show us around:

Photography by Maria Dremo Sundström via Almbacken.

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Above: After moving into the circa-1973 house in 2002, Maria and her husband remodeled the interior, undertaking a “total renovation.” At that time, the garden consisted of: “two large willows, a cherry tree, a magnolia, and a big lawn,” she says.

“I started out making a plan for the garden,” she says. “That way we could do the work one step at a time, not worrying about the rest.”

On her wish list:

  • Green and lush.
  • Beautiful and interesting all year round.
  • Serene.
  • Easy to maintain.
  • Lots of places to sit down.
  • Attract birds, bees, and butterflies.

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Above: The garden today has a layered look in winter: evergreen hedges and boxwood balls create structure and focal points around the perimeter of the garden.

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Above: The first area Maria worked on was the garden’s long and narrow entrance on the north side of the house, where today a low-growing evergreen Bamboo ‘Bimbo’ (at Center)  is a low-maintenance, compact shrub. Visible in the background is storage for bikes and dustbins.

“It is so important that the entrance is beautiful,” says Maria. “It is important to invest in plants that are attractive year round.”

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Above: A wooden deck that runs alongside the house’s facade creates an indoor-outdoor connection to the garden.

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Above: At the edge of the deck, a green boxwood globe stands sentinel, its shape echoed in the background by the round shapes of burnt-orange spirea shrubs.

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Above: A brick path runs from the entryway to the house. “In the garden, we kept the big willow, the cherry tree and the magnolia. Besides that, we started from scratch. We started by planting the hedges of thuja, beech, and box,” says Maria.

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Above: Stalwart flowers cling to the hydrangea shrubs in winter. “Thank God for the copper brown color, which provides heat in gray weather,” says Maria.

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Above: Visible in a back corner of the garden, the children’s trampoline will soon be replaced by a greenhouse. “The greenhouse is the one big project ahead of us,” says Maria. “When you make a plan, I believe it is important to think of how your life changes over time and make the plan flexible.”

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Above: Miscanthus sinensis ‘Malepartus’ stands tall in the face of winter storms.

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Above: “Now you’re well tired of this view, but that is what I see when I sit on the couch in the morning and get the urge to photograph,” says Maria.

We’re not a bit tired of it. For more of the garden, follow Maria on Instagram: @mariapaalmbacken.

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