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Well Grounded

“When you walk into a garden, there always should be an element of surprise,” landscape designer John Lloyd says. Business partner Selim Yolac agrees. “If you can achieve an element of surprise, whether the garden is large or small, it’s sure to be a winner.”

In their own tiny garden, the surprises are simple: a lily pond that comes into view only after climbing a set of elevated stone steps planted with creeping thyme and sedum sexangulare and an urn fountain that is discovered through an arched doorway formed by hornbeams.

Although the designing pair, who bill themselves as Yolac & Lloyd, have been puttering about the English garden of their Southport cape for more than two decades, their quarter-acre lot’s series of “living rooms” (which are constantly being redecorated) never fail to yield more surprises. “We like to try new things out,” Lloyd says, “and we sometimes use them in clients’ gardens. This garden is our portfolio, and the rooms appeal to different people.”

The first outdoor room is the pergola or morning garden. Sheltered by sprays of pale pink Constance Spry English roses from David Austin, it’s where Yolac and Lloyd begin their day with a breakfast of Greek yogurt, blueberries, almonds and a sprinkle of granola with a touch of English orange marmalade (on Sundays, it’s sausages, fried bread and scrambled eggs). A second bloom room is the eclectic parterre, which, with its pruned boxwood and fountain, is a prime space for sitting. Next is the shade garden, a cozy corner of ferns and moss that is a divine spot for drinks, most notably “The Fairfielder,” the homeowners’ proprietary mix of Grey Goose Vodka, tonic and a twist of key lime. At around 4 o’clock, it’s teatime (“Loose tea, from England,” Yolac points out) beneath a half-century-old apple tree in the koi pond garden with their three-year-old blue roan English cocker spaniels, Spencer and Hayley, curled up at their feet.

The laurel shrub by the back-bay window is a Yolac & Lloyd signature. The hearty Constitution State native, pieris Japonica, is kept trimmed to look like a bonsai and is paired with sprays of Constance Spry, one of the many varieties of old English David Austin roses in the garden. Container gardens or what Lloyd calls “gardens within gardens” are another hallmark. “We especially like alpine container gardens, which are filled with plants that grow on mountainsides and with succulents,” Yolac says.

The fact that their gardens are living sculptural art is no surprise: Lloyd, a native of England, and Yolac, who was born in Turkey and raised in Britain, met at the Royal College of Art in London, where they earned master’s of arts degrees in fashion design in 1983. They then came to America and worked in the apparel industry for fifteen years before starting their gardening business seven years ago.

The landscaping pair begins and ends each day in the garden. In summer, they rise at 5:00 am and work about 45 minutes before visiting clients in their signature 1950 Beefeater-red Dodge pickup. It’s on the weekends, though, that they really turn their attention to their greenhouse, in the back of the garden, which is filled with plantings and seedlings and some two dozen varieties of orchids, including the white Phalaenopsis Yukimai, the pink Phalaenopsis and the pink and white Dendrobium.

As their garden has matured into a neighborhood attraction, so has the business they created together. “The garden is always changing,” Lloyd says. “We are constantly refining it, and that’s what makes it great.”

Yolac & Lloyd, Fairfield, 259-9361