Explore a Coastal Garden in Newburyport

July 13, 2021

A landscape architecture team takes a Newburyport property to the next level.

Text by Tovah Martin    Photography by Kindra Clineff

It began with a bad hair day. Cynthia Gompers was returning from a trip in 2007 when she was struck by the sudden urge to visit her salon in Newburyport. Small talk included an I’ve-always-wanted-to-live-on-the-water confession,and soon the Exeter, New Hampshire, resident was swinging by a newly listed Merrimack River waterfront property on the stylist’s recommendation. Gompers fell hard for owner/builder Mark DePiero’s Shingle-style residence, and, in no time at all, she and her husband, David, purchased the house and its one-plus acres, dubbing their new home Glen Eagle.

The thoughtfully sited home boasts water views from every room. There’s also a carriage-house-style garage that serves as a home office for Gompers, marketing director for Juice Plus+ and Tower Garden companies. In 2019, inspired by the ultra-tranquil outdoor ambience, the couple was considering a firepit when Gompers noticed landscape architect Verne Fisher of Visionary Landscapes working on the property next door.

The homeowners and Fisher met and immediately saw eye to eye. “It’s all about the client, their lifestyle, and their personal taste, while also balancing function, form, and scale,” Fisher explains. Scale is particularly critical against a waterfront backdrop. To capture the exact angles and sight lines, fellow landscape architect Mara Robinson of Mara Landscape Design collaborated with the project team, creating a 3D presentation to illustrate exactly how plantings would frame river views.

The dialogue flowed, with Gompers’s strong sense of design complementing Fisher’s years of experience selecting plants capable of tolerating wind and salt spray. When Gompers requested a white-and-blue color palette with a touch of pink thrown in, Fisher planted stoically hardy salvias, dwarf mountain laurel, hydrangeas, and drought-tolerant lavenders, accenting them with azaleas, Japanese maples, and spiraeas for an occasional pink pop.

The landscape architect’s signature style of grouping plants by the hundreds creates instant impact. As for the impetus of the redesign? With so many comfy places to lounge, a formal firepit was deemed unnecessary, but an impromptu fire bowl creates warmth.

Serenaded by shorebirds, for the homeowners, serenity prevails at Glen Eagle. “I awake to a beautiful sunrise framed by the gardens—my days begin and end outdoors,” says Gompers of an impulse purchase that keeps getting better.

Landscape design: Verne Fisher, Visionary Landscapes, and Mara Robinson, Mara Landscape Design