Michael Hall Patterson, owner of Broadview Manor Inc., an award-winning landscape design and installation company, died Saturday from melanoma at his Monkton home. He was 57.
Mr. Patterson was born on his family's Monkton dairy farm and lived there all of his life. He was a 1968 graduate of Hereford High School and earned a bachelor's degree in horticulture from the University of Maryland, College Park, in 1972.
He returned to the family farm after college at a time when it was being transformed from a dairy operation into Manor View Farm Inc., a wholesale nursery operation, on Manor Road.
Mr. Patterson worked for Chapel Valley, a landscaping company, and the old Stebbins Garden Gate in Timonium before rejoining Manor View Farm.
In 1976, he established Broadview Manor Inc., and over the past three decades, developed a loyal clientele who appreciated his quirky, life-size outdoor chess sets, as well as his multilevel spas, pools, timber-frame pool houses, rustic barns and innovative landscaping and gardens.
His work has been featured in many magazines, including Better Homes & Gardens, Mid-Atlantic Country, Leisure Living and Style.
With his carefully combed snow-white beard and wearing his trademark beret, fedora or cap with his 21111 ZIP code embroidered across it, Mr. Patterson looked more like a model than a "guy who played in the dirt," family members said.
In addition to his design work, Mr. Patterson also enjoyed working shoulder to shoulder with his employees on installations. He particularly liked, for instance, the challenge of setting in place two-ton boulders.
He also had a reputation for making projects work, no matter how complicated or difficult the problems he might encounter.
"He never took 'no' for an answer," said his wife of six months, the former Amy Elizabeth Hildreth.
"My relationship with Mike began with site planning. I'd consult with him on how to orientate a building, a garage or even a driveway," said David C. Sutphen, founder and president of SouthFen Inc., a White Hall design and construction firm that specializes in historic restoration.
"He could stand in the middle of a cornfield while I rolled out a concept for a house and by the time he was done, he had created a vision that I could see and understand," Mr. Sutphen said. "He was a genius and had that kind of imagination. He really was like an artist who could see things that didn't exist and then would bring them to life."
Mr. Stuphen also credited Mr. Patterson with the ability to make his designs blend into the environment.
"His work was seamless, whether it was siting a house or planting a grove of trees. It really was the highest compliment that it looked natural, like it had been there forever," he said.
Another hallmark of Mr. Patterson was his willingness to make himself available to his clients seven days a week.
"He'd go out at odd hours, for instance, to help clients who had problems operating their pool equipment or other difficulties. Mike was a people pleaser and always generous with his time," Mr. Sutphen said.
Bob Carpenter is a longtime friend and client, for whom Mr. Patterson designed and installed a pool house and relandscaped his grounds.
"With Mike, the customer always came first. He was in business to enhance people's home," he said. "He really transformed our backyard into a vacation place, so much so, I never want to leave and go anywhere else."
In a 1997 interview with The Sun, Mr. Patterson said, "I think before you decide on a pool or any landscaping, you have to take a really good look at your property. How far you want to go depends on what you already have on your property."
Mr. Patterson was an avid tennis player and enjoyed sailing catamarans competitively.
"Michael used his many gifts to make the world a more beautiful place and did so with admirable style and grace from beginning to end," said his former wife of 30 years, Priscilla Anne "Pam" Meade.
Mr. Patterson was a longtime communicant and usher at St. James Episcopal Church, 3100 Monkton Road, where a memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Feb. 2.
Also surviving are two stepsons, Bryan D. Tracey of Plano, Texas, and Jonathan D. Tracey of Laguna Beach, Calif.; a brother, Miles R. Patterson Jr. of Monkton; two sisters, Nancy P. Young and Mary "Missie" Margaret Hendrix, both of Monkton; and a grandson.