Bickham knew she wanted the circle theme to repeat outdoors, so Netzer cleared a shade garden and used recycled stone to build a circular bed around a large tree and paving stones to create a circular patio.
"We totally cleared the yard on one side and put all of the leaves in garbage bags," Bickham said. By the next spring, "they'd turned to gold," becoming a rich compost that helped amend the heavy clay soil of the yard.
Bickham wanted a fence to add privacy to the flat, exposed shade garden and showed Netzer some ideas for a fence that would mimic the unique mortar pattern of the house. He designed and built one that blends with the architecture beautifully.
The shade garden is chock full of shade-loving plants they selected together, from oak leaf hydrangeas and astilbe to anemones and ferns. Small holly shrubs will add more privacy when they reach maturity.
In the back, Netzer created raised beds right outside the back door where Bickham grows her food garden, which she has dubbed the Garden of Good-Eatin'. She comes out most evenings during the growing season to find inspiration for dinner. Right now, the cool-weather Swiss chard provides a visual pop of color, and butternut squash are thriving along a wall.
In 2009, the team turned to the daunting hillside, where Bickham knew she'd need more terracing and some steps if she were going to manage any gardening there without hurting herself.
She really wanted a deck at the top of the yard, a space where she could meditate and see the neighborhood below. It was going to be another big undertaking, so she put off the idea.
"Last year, I was coming home from a drumming workshop and a voice told me, 'If you're gonna do it, do it,' " she said. She called Netzer and told him it was time to proceed on her Garden of Remembrance.
He brought along one of his own workers, Nathan Van Buren, who hoisted heavy rocks and cut steps into the hillside. "It was like he was born to do that," Netzer said.
"This garden emerged as we worked," Bickham said.
Netzer designed the sturdy deck, using materials they salvaged thanks to a friend's generous offer. Another offer, for composted goat manure, also was readily accepted - and talk about gold; Bickham said it made her plants very happy.
Netzer continues to work with Bickham as she proceeds through each stage of her garden. She trusts his vision and the thoughtful design elements he's incorporated, such as flat spots to sit along stone walls and fencing to discourage deer.
She tries to appreciate every part of the garden, whether it's looking out into her shade garden from her bedroom window in the morning, relaxing on the upper deck, where she has strung Nepalese prayer flags, or puttering around pulling a weed here and picking a vegetable there.
"I'm into seeing it or relating to it every day," she said.
"My neighbors have really enjoyed this, too," she said, adding her work has inspired lots of friendly visits and questions, including, "Are you building a stage up there?" as the deck was being constructed.
Contact writer Monica Orosz at mon...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4830.