North Salem, NY
The owners of this twelve-acre property wanted to establish native meadows to accompany their existing highly formal landscape. These seemingly conflicting approaches were gracefully integrated in a garden featuring formally arrayed native meadow plants. An oval lawn panel central to the garden further embodies the formal approach. The transition from formal to natural is completed as the garden compositions dissolve into a seven-acre seeded meadow. A harmony of regional ecology and the formal design aesthetic, the property illustrates that traditional and natural landscape design approaches need not be mutually exclusive.
This 400-acre estate features forty acres of designed native meadows and many acres of managed woodlands. A series of pocket landscapes were also designed to highlight and enhance the property’s diverse array of existing microhabitats. For over a decade, the introduced native plants have been dispersing their seeds while invasive species have been carefully controlled, shifting the ecological dynamic to the point that native species now dominate and even proliferate into unplanted areas. Consequently, upkeep is a fraction of that needed for comparably sized properties. Yet it is the raw beauty of this place and its evolution in concert with thoughtful management that is most compelling and uplifting: to experience it is to sense how humans can engage in a dance with the land itself. (Click for more on this estate.)
This property received the Place Maker Award from the Foundation for Landscape Studies (2011) and is included in the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Gardens. The meadows were featured in the Landscape Architecture Magazine (Dec. 2014), the Ecological Landscape Alliance summer tour series (2014), the Cultural Landscape Foundation’s Garden Dialogues tour series (2012), The Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Program (2009), Wildflower Magazine (2009), and The New York Times (2008). The property is also a participating site in an ongoing insect diversity study conducted by the Farmscape Ecology Program.
Formal gardens: Rodney Robinson Landscape Architects.
Saucon Valley, PA
A series of unique constructed elements unify this dramatic, 160-acre landscape formerly home to a founding family of Bethlehem Steel. Stone terraces and paths wind through an unfolding series of native gardens; stonewalls flanking the entry drive evoke the existing hedgerows that spatially define the property; and a pool resembling a meandering path culminates in dramatic views of a thirty-acre planted meadow. Restored steel umbrellas, once part of the property’s formal landscape, were sited to create an implied arc connecting the gardens’ more structured realm and the wilder landscape beyond. (Click for more on this 160-acre estate.)
Featured in Private Edens (Jack Straub, 2013), Garden Design Magazine (2011), Landscape Management (2008), and Nature’s Garden (2007). Received the Landscape Design Honor Award from the Perennial Plant Association (2008) and the Gold Award, Best in Show Award, and Monrovia® Distinctly Better Plant Design Award from the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (2008). Study site for Burghardt, Tallamy, & Shriver, “Impact of Native Plants on Bird and Butterfly Biodiversity in Suburban Landscapes,” Conservation Biology, 2008, vol. 23, no. 1.