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Victory Garden, Loudoun Style

How one Woman's Vision + River's Edge Landscapes Built the Ultimate Garden Sanctuary

Article by Melinda Gipson

Photography by Celeste Linthicum

Originally published in Leesburg Lifestyle

Here sits a kitchen table littered with drafting paper, photographs, drawings, and ideas flying as fast as bees in August. On one side sits Sabrina Gallimore, or call her Airmid, Celtic goddess of healing, “Earth Mother,” an herbalist and profligate gardener – she, Demeter whose presence wakes the Earth in Spring. "So many of my happy memories from childhood were with my mother in the garden. It just kind of took root,” she explains.

Across from her sits Paul LaPointe, owner of River’s Edge Landscapes, detail-driven landscape architect, Imhotep-Hephaestus, he who plans and drafts and measures and with his team of horticulturalists and stone masons raises beauty through order and design. Or perhaps he is Sabrina’s Saint Fiacre of Breuil – a 7th Century Irish saint who ended up in France where he became known as the patron saint of gardeners. His sense of order scopes the boundaries in which Sabrina’s profusion thrives.

IMAGINE what they could build together!

Thankfully, we didn’t have to. We walked the parallel, pebble-strewn paths of terraced flower and salad beds, caught the tendrils of green and yellow zucchini snaking their way up the wire trellises lining the garden shed, and marveled at the Espalier apple and pear trees soaking up the sun along the 8-foot stone walls ringing the outdoor fire pit. We smelled the roses, irises, and native flowers interspersed with strawberries, catmint, lavender, and lemon balm. We saw raised garlic growing chest high.

We were tutored in how best to time the emergence from the greenhouse of her bananas, grapefruit, orange, lime and avocado trees. “The bananas are tricky because they grow so tall, you have to be able to take them out when it’s warm,” Sabrina explains. We then watch her don her bee-keeper uniform to demonstrate how her two tidy hives could, astonishingly, produce 100 pounds of honey per year.

Most importantly, we felt peace flow like the breeze in and around the serene arenas that lie between where the house ends and the serious growing begins, an oasis that Sabrina says was simply intended as “a very healing place to be.” Sabrina has often opened her doors to homeless or battered women, and she envisioned “different spaces where you could relax and feel like you could be away from all the pressures of life for a while.”

Through Paul’s eyes, “The upper terraces consist of decking off the house and, transitional gardens from the ground level leading to a circular patio with a stone fire pit surrounded by eight-foot-tall stone walls. Copper scuppers built into the wall have water flowing out of them into a pond bordering one end of the patio. An open stone archway and a bridge over the water leads you to the next terrace that includes a large cedar gazebo and glass greenhouse built on a stone foundation.”

“The next three terraces include raised beds, pea gravel pathways, a garden shed and a bee station. The raised beds include flowers, vegetables, berries, grape vines and more. All the landscape areas include well thought-out night lighting for both functionality and aesthetic value.”

Chimes Sabrina, “You could be roasting marshmallows, but also listening to the water. It was all designed to stimulate the senses in a very soothing and relaxing way.”

Thankfully, their very different styles finally fused them into a powerful team. Sabrina says, “Over time we’ve actually become friends as opposed to just doing business together. They have been such a delight to work with and are just such great people.” She explains, “Paul is wonderful at being able to listen to your ideas and vision and then be able to help create them. Besides their great workmanship they have a tremendous degree of ethics and integrity which means a lot to me.”

In that vein, Paul is quick to credit several River's Edge designers who collaborated with him on the design and execution. Besides himself he thanks Jeff Foresha, Theresa Seguine and Carol Snow. And, for the record, he insists, “We’re not quite finished. Wait until July, then you’ll see.”

Absolutely! Next time, we’ll bring a basket.

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