How to Create a Courtyard Garden | Midwest Living

How to Create a Courtyard Garden

Palms and more transform a Cincinnati backyard into a sophisticated courtyard with a tropical feel.


Ted's courtyard features reproductions of Italian busts atop a brick wall.
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Fountains add sound to the surroundings.
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Ted Gantz's courtyard garden melds several of his great passions: Italian living, classical sculpture and the atmosphere of the tropics.

His home and art studio are just a mile from downtown Cincinnati. But as guests enter through wrought-iron Italianate gates, pass through a junglelike walkway and emerge into a brick-walled courtyard packed with tropical plants, they realize the setting is a world apart.

The sophisticated look reflects Ted's admiration for the casual outdoor living he sees during his frequent trips to Italy. He has loved the country's design and architecture since 1966, when he was an art student in Florence. "I try to imitate the Italian lifestyle as much as I can," says Ted, a sculptor whose work is commissioned for homes, gardens, cities and businesses.

The vision for Ted's home and garden began in the late 1970s, when he bought three side-by-side buildings on the northern edge of Cincinnati's downtown.

"I loved the vibrancy of the city," Ted says.

He transformed one building into his Sycamore Street Studio and one into his home. The middle of the three-story buildings was demolished except for the outer walls and part of the back wall.

The resulting courtyard between the remaining buildings is about 30 feet wide by 100 feet long and three stories tall. The entrance walkway leads to the main patio, where Ted often hosts parties and business gatherings. Just beyond, a sunken garden rests in part of the demolished building's foundation.


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