Q & A with Laura Gibson

March 25, 2015

By Paula M. Bodah

Good landscaping is about so much more than colorful blooms or a swath of velvety, weed-free lawn. The right plan complements a home’s architecture, fits in with the surroundings, and reflects the personality of the homeowners. For landscape architect Lolly Gibson, of Laura Gibson Landscape Design in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, making a client’s dream a reality can mean thinking pretty far outside the box.

In our March-April issue,for example, we featured a “contemplative garden” she created for a homeowner who requested a Zen garden for his home on the North Shore. The house had a traditional New England style and a series of spaces for the kinds of activities today’s families enjoy: a swimming pool, grill area, lawn for a game of waffle ball or croquet. Lolly’s challenge was creating the right transition from the active part of the yard to the quiet space her client wanted. The result was beautiful, and made us want to more know about Lolly’s landscaping philosophy.

Zen Garden

Photograph by Laura Gibson

What does your own landscape look like?

“My own landscape is on a steep slope,” and is a point-counterpoint of clipped boxwood and lush, flowery beds.”

Lolly Gibson

Lolly Gibson Garden

What flower can you simply not live without in your own garden?

“My favorite plants are mosses and ferns, as you might be able to tell from this picture of my own moss garden.”

moss garden

What are the two or three most basic, important things to think about when designing a garden?

“I really don’t have a concise answer for that! Each site brings different challenges, and each homeowner is different and has different goals,” Lolly says. This home, featured in our July-August 2013 issue is a great example of marrying the landscape plan with the natural surroundings. The house sits high on a bluff on the North Shore of Massachusetts and the site is characterized by rocky ledges. Lolly excavated land between ledges and installed a dry stone riverbed with a sinuous iron railing at the ledge’s top. The riverbed nestles into the rocks, and mosses, ferns, and shrubs make the whole setting look as if it were created by Mother Nature herself.

Michael J. Lee

Photograph by Michael J. Lee