Photography: (pruners) Courtesy of Fleco; (all others) Anna Knott
Growing up on a farm in Milford, Indiana, Douglas Hoerr knew he would someday work the land—though maybe not drive a tractor, like he did as a boy.
After working at a relative’s landscape business in Peoria in his 20s, he moved to England, where he apprenticed with some of the most respected gardeners in the world, including John Brookes and Beth Chatto. He now runs a landscape design business with Peter Schaudt, working on projects all over the city and North Shore, and across the United States.
What’s his approach? “Whatever the landscape, I select plants for their shape and texture more than for their color,” he says. “In my yard, I chose a mix of plant types—tropicals, perennials, flowering vines, and annuals—to create a lush environment.”
Also key: “I keep winter in mind and use trees, such as the Redspire on my deck, that have structure all year round,” says Hoerr, 57, who lives with his wife, artist Tracy Taylor, and two children, Malcolm, 14, and Amelia, 10, in a Lincoln Park Victorian.
To read more about what Hoerr considers aesthetic (and nostalgic) perfection, see below.
10 Things He Loves
PHOTO OF SWISS ANCESTRAL HOME
“It’s nice to show the kids their heritage—and cool to know that a relative brought this photo to America.”
“I used to raise bees on the farm where I grew up and sell the honey. It was early entrepreneurship. Having this reminder keeps me grounded.”
“These take me back to my childhood too; I collected them. I liked the way they looked—still do—and imagining what life was like a long time ago.”
LAGAVULIN SINGLE MALT SCOTCH ($80, Binny’s, 213 W. Grand Ave.)
“I got introduced to it when I lived in England, so when I taste the peat and heather, it takes me back there.”
“My wife and I collect rabbits when we’re traveling. These bronze hares struck us as a great poor man’s Barry Flanagan statue.”
HERITAGE APOLLO LEAD HOLDER ($26, alvinco.com)
“A pencil tip is too small for sketching. This frees me up to get the essence of the big moves down first.”
GARDENS ARE FOR PEOPLE BY THOMAS D. CHURCH ($39, amazon.com)
“This book opened my world. I go back to it quite a bit for inspiration.”
FELCO PRUNERS ($54, Home Depot, 1300 S. Clinton St.)
“You should always have the best tools around. These are sharp, built to last, and a pleasure to use.”
BARBOUR COAT ($379, Barbour, 2042 N. Halsted St.)
“I still have this coat from when I gardened in England 15 years ago. Barbours were bought for function—it rains all the time. But they also have their own rugged style.”
EAMES LOUNGE CHAIR AND OTTOMAN (From $4,499, Room & Board, 55 E. Ohio St.)
“I’ve always loved this design. Creating a chair that is this attractive and ergonomically correct is sort of like getting a garden right.”