Special Focus: Landscape Design
April 4, 2014
These five lovely landscapes may be quite different, but they share an emphasis on simplicity, elegance, and an intimate relationship with their sites
Text by Paula M. Bodah
This is the iconic Cape Cod summer home, a place where extended family and friends descend for weekends of fun, camaraderie, and—especially—relaxation. For landscape architect Greg Bilowz, that translated to a backyard plan needing minimal upkeep. “They want to enjoy their landscape, not be a slave to it,” he says. The focal point, a circular granite terrace with a curved wall set at just the right height for sitting, can accommodate a crowd. Chairs pulled up close to the gas-run fire pit turn the space cozy for an intimate evening of storytelling and cider. Stone steps to the beach are artfully woven into the embankment. Softness, color, and texture come from perennials like lavender, sedum, Russian sage, and roses chosen for hardiness and low maintenance.
Landscape architect: Greg Bilowz, Bilowz Associates, Sterling, Mass.
Landscape construction/installation: Francisco Tavares, East Falmouth, Mass.
Architect: Denise D’Ambrosi Bonoli, East Falmouth
Builder: Cataldo Custom Builders, East Falmouth
Photography: Eric Roth
Rooted in History
This Sudbury, Massachusetts, property has been a farm of one kind or another for more than two centuries. Noting its recent past as a horse facility, landscape architect Laura Kuhn describes it as “squares all over the place,” with fence-lined paddocks separated by rigid strips of grass. The new owners planned to grow vegetables to supply local restaurants. But this was to be their home, too, so they wanted it to be both beautiful and functional. Kuhn’s miraculous transformation turned muddy paddocks and flat pastures back into rich agricultural land. And to satisfy the owners’ request for beauty, she surrounded their living quarters with a series of curvaceous, tiered walls, walks, and gardens teeming with lush ferns, cushy groundcovers, fragrant evergreens, and flowering perennials.
Landscape architect: Laura Kuhn, Arlington, Mass.
Landscape installation: D.P. Lenox Landscaping, Acton, Mass.
Architect: Dewing Schmid Kearns, Concord, Mass.
Builder: Kistler and Knapp Builders, Acton
Photography: Rich Pomerantz
So enamored with the outdoors are these suburban-Boston homeowners, they charged Dan Gordon with devising a space they could use day and night, in every month of the year. Gordon obliged with an “outdoor room”—a bluestone terrace anchored by a pergola that covers a fully equipped kitchen, complete with bar seating and a flat-screen TV. On summer days, the terrace can welcome plenty of guests, thanks to its multiple seating options. A fire pit heats up crisp autumn evenings. In winter, intrepid family members have been known to watch the Super Bowl from the warm comfort of the spa. Hardy perennials and ornamental trees provide colorful blooms, while a hedge of arborvitaes offers privacy. And, when the sun goes down, a carefully conceived lighting plan gives the whole space a gorgeous glow.
Landscape architect: Dan Gordon, Dan K. Gordon Associates, Wellesley, Mass.
Builder and landscape installation: Paragon Landscape Construction, North Marshfield, Mass.
This little piece of Eden sits in a neighborhood of close-set Colonial-era homes along a main road in New Castle, New Hampshire, yet it feels gloriously isolated. The house offers stellar views of the Piscataqua River. But the very best vantage point—especially at sunset—is the stone terrace just off the back of the house, says landscape architect George Pellettieri. In this space, bordered by a stone wall and surrounded by perennials that include lusty Sarah Bernhardt peonies, the feeling of seclusion is total. Gardens of ledge rock—some deposited by nature and some added by Pellettieri—are blanketed with an array of colorful blooms and descend the sloping lawn to the water’s edge. A granite stairway winds from yard to house, and a rustic fire pit awaits a marshmallow-toasting party.
Landscape architect and installation: Pellettieri Associates, Warner, N.H.
Photography: James R. Salomon
“We were trying to do justice to a beautiful coastal environment,” David Hawk says modestly about the landscaping plan for this Cape Cod house. “We wanted to keep it elegant, with simple forms.” Those simple forms include a circular terrace of Brazilian porphyry set into an island of grass and surrounded by a perennial border that, come summer, creates what Hawk calls “one big colorful view.” Too often, a swimming pool dominates the landscape, but here the pool sits about eight feet below a courtyard at the back of the house, leaving water views from the house uninterrupted. “There are lots of neat places on this property,” Hawk says, no doubt thinking about another terrace, this one anchored by a covered porch and bordered by low-growing grasses, lavender, and evergreens.
Landscape architect: David Hawk, Hawk Design, Sagamore, Mass.
Landscape construction/installation: Schumacher Companies, West Bridgewater, Mass.
Architect and builder: Polhemus Savery DaSilva Architects Builders, Chatham, Mass.
Photography: Mitch Harper