In the spring of 2015, the grounds at The Oaks underwent an amazing transformation with big changes and improvements that included the addition of a fountain, fire pit, nature trail and lush landscaping.
Rick Piretti of Piretti Home & Garden oversaw the entire project. Piretti is a native of Memphis and a graduate of Mississippi State University with a degree in landscape contracting, and he grew up going to garden tours.
A Meditative, Natural Space
For the projects at The Oaks, Piretti focused on tying in the new elements to the surrounding nature and structures with an eye toward peaceful, meditative outdoor spaces. The fountain emerged from an existing circular space and features an understated hardscape lined with brick pavers. Piretti opted for reclaimed materials, choosing 120-year-old handmade red bricks that match beautifully with the main entrance to The Oaks as well as the residential buildings near the back of the property. As patients do the hard but rewarding work of recovery, this simple water feature provides a perfect place for meditation, providing natural white noise and helping to clear the mind.
From Water to Fire
From the fountain, one has a clear view of the fire pit, constructed of natural stone, surrounded by a sitting area comprised of No. 10 limestone gravel. This finely ground material can be packed down to mimic the hardness of concrete but with a softer look and feel that better integrates with the natural environment. Sturdy chairs are loosely grouped in a circle around the fire pit, offering seating for singular introspection, casual hangouts or larger meetings.
For those who want a little more activity, the nearby horseshoe pit is made of the same materials and blends seamlessly into the setting while allowing for some friendly competition. The nature trail (temporarily under renovation in 2018) is another great option for getting some exercise while outdoors. This low-key loop clocks in at just under a quarter mile and includes workout stations that can be completed at your own pace or as a timed obstacle course.
Native Plantings & Pops of Color
In addition to adding some shade-friendly sod to provide a beautiful greenscape, Piretti filled out the grounds with a wide range of plants native to the area. This included several boxwoods of different varieties and a number of beds throughout the campus that will be in bloom from spring to fall. Hydrangeas dominate throughout the summer. Azaleas are also a popular part of the landscape, along with a few rosebushes and some Chinese snowball viburnum added into the mix. Since much of the campus at The Oaks is nicely shaded, it’s a very hospitable place for hostas, ferns and other shade-loving plants to thrive. Then, in addition to all the perennials, there are annuals to provide pops of color. The goal was to use hardy plantings that will look and smell beautiful for years to come.