Midwest Living

Stream at home

The sights and sounds of water tumbling over stones soothe the soul at this inspiring woodland garden in Michigan.


f hiking a stretch of the Appalachia­n Trail is on your adventure bucket list, David Baker’s garden offers a taste of the terrain—in Ann Arbor, Michigan. A mountain stream inspired David’s front yard, a sloping woodland expanse, where water and blooms cascade gracefully, like the belle of the ball descending a grand staircase. Waterfalls feed a brook that plays hide-and-seek with meandering stone paths. Three pumps circulate the water, mostly roof runoff routed to the stream via buried drains. It’s a scene from The Last of the Mohicans, or maybe a Thomas Cole painting.

Though the garden clones a bit of Appalachia, its DNA is all Midwestern. David bought a pickup just to haul plants from nurseries in Lake County, Ohio, and he axed all the non-native trees, wanting to lay avian lead vocals over the backing track of rushing water. “I love birds,” David says, “and native oaks provide forage and habitat for migrating songbirds here.”

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