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Main Garden Living outside
Living outside Print E-mail
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Monday, 30 April 2012 00:00

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Living Outside

Guests congregate with Jose De Sousa (far left) in the lower-level living room. Candles and house lights project a warm aura illuminating the garden at twilight.

// Photos by Joshua McCullough

JJ De Sousa is a party girl, and nowhere is her penchant for entertaining more apparent than in her garden. Her background in interior design and her flair for garden design meld in a space where contrasts abound. The old world architecture of her circa 1924 English cottage in Portland juxtaposed with contemporary materials speaks volumes about her design aesthetic and the way she approaches creating chic outdoor living spaces.

Childhood memories of family gardens in Holland and Belgium, where she lived part time until she was 15, coupled with an interest in repurposing found objects, architectural salvage and industrial materials imbue the garden with a sense of her personal style and energy. The lines between house and garden are blurred as the garden is laid out in a series of interconnected rooms, each with a specific function or purpose. 

When she purchased the ramshackle English cottage on the flanks of Mt. Tabor in 1996, gardening was the furthest thing from her mind. She despised pulling weeds for her mother in high school and didn’t want to be a gardener. But what captivated De Sousa was the opportunity to breathe new life into the house, a rental complete with a squatter in the basement, no running water or electricity and a condemnation order from the city. Undaunted, she bought the house and began the ongoing process of remodeling. 

Once renovation on the cottage was under way, she forced herself to consider the derelict condition of the garden. The area behind the house resembled an archaeological dig. Stone walls, staircases and terraces installed 60 years ago were partially destroyed and slumping, the soil was depleted and old plants were out of control. De Sousa says joining the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon and going to lectures, open gardens and plant sales gave her the impetus and information to begin garden making. She turned out to be a quick study. 

A vibrant and whimsical gates leads to the back yard.
The lush back yard is mostly potted plants that help define areas.
De Sousa uses color, especially orange, to tie together her garden.
Potted plants allow for versatile placement and frequent re-groupings.
Outdoor art, pots, plants and color are used effusively in De Sousa's vision.
Each pot gets a vibrant mix of plants that are selected for color and texture.
A rustic red door trimmed in blue adds a focal point to the back of the house.
Potted plants are great cover for an outdoor grill.
The gray cushions allow for all-weather durability and a neutral background .
Gray and white are used in conjunction with orange throughout the back yard.
Jose and JJ De Sousa linger at twilight in their outdoor living room.
Jose (at left) and JJ (at right) entertain friends in their multi-level back yard.
A vibrant and whimsical gates leads to the back yard.PHOTO JOSHUA MCCULLOUGH

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-3 #1 Art Director, retail advertisingDenise Chapman 2012-05-02 22:02
First off I'm curious where this Oregonian stores her outdoor furniture during our cold months.
Secondly, is the drop between the dining and sectional area legal? Not good if you've served too much sangria or have a blind dog!
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-1 #2 RE: Living outsideLisa Coleman 2012-05-03 13:53
I'm trying to wrap my head around having a full sectional couch in a portland backyard. Even if it's stored somewhere else in the winter, it does rain here in the summer! And even if covered, I can't imagine it lasting long.
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+5 #3 outdoor furniture....jj de sousa 2012-05-03 18:22
Thanks for the comments! This Oregonian does not store her furniture during our cold months. Everything we have outside is made to stay outside - no storage required...including the cushions! There are so many great outdoor products and fabrics out now with inredible performance - times and products have changed and I am so happy they did. As our house is only 900 sq ft, we don't even have the room to store them. It is all about making the right choices when purchasing outdoor products...and you really do get what you pay for! I have had my sectional outdoors for the last 5 years and it is none the worse for wear! Just thought you should know....
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-2 #4 RE: Living outsideKen Edwards 2012-05-22 08:38
Great article, and thanks for sharing. Love the colors!
Where can I find some of the great orange loungers?
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+1 #5 outdoor furnishingspowmacca 2012-05-31 13:33
personally i think this is great.. it illustrates really effectively how people can actually do more than just bricks, stones and box store lattice. im guessing that gate wasnt terribly cheap maybe around $700 but it'll last a lifetime. For those of you who cnat wait to get on the flaming bandwagon, do some research before you start talking smack about codes and or furnishings. If you did your homework you would know what solutions are available to the public. Sunbrella has been making cusions abd covers for years that have peoven to be quite durable and aside from being uv resistant, also wear-well thru the changing climates
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0 #6 ORANGE LOUNGERS.....jj de sousa 2012-06-05 09:05
HI KEN! Thanks for the kind comment! The orange loungers are from the Dune Collection by Fermob. We carry the full line of Fermob products at my shop, Digs Inside & Out on Alberta Street. They come in other colors as well, but the orange is obviously my favorite!
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-1 #7 RE: Living outsideShelly 2014-12-27 16:44
Love this yard...thank you for sharing it. We have a run of the mill rectangle back yard and now I see it totally differently! Well done!
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0 #8 Living outside guqetionCharlotte 2015-10-18 08:12
An wondering about the shed with corrugated metal siding - was it professionally done or diy? Contact? Plans?
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