2014 CTC&G Innovation in Design Winners: Landscape

2014 IDA Winner Landscape: Janice Parker Landscape Architects

Winner: Janice Parker Landscape Architects
Capturing the synergy between nature and hardscapes

A sculpture garden is a study in contrasts. One secret to this winning design is the careful balance between the hardscape and surrounding nature. “We wanted it to look like the flower garden was trying to escape from the very strong bones of the architecture,” says Janice Parker, “with nature being irrepressible!” 

Siting new elements—a poolhouse, pergola and pool—into the landscape was the main challenge, according to Parker. Her major concern was to protect the roots of the large trees that anchor the property, while “nestling in” the new features so it all felt effortless. The property already had a good sense of rhythm in the towering shade trees and gently rolling lay of the land. “Our job was to make the whole landscape dance,” she says.

Elements located by the front of the pool house are reduced to an essential bold geometry comprised of stone, lawn and gravel, with an elegantly minimalistic millstone fountain at the far end of the plot. Beside this formal parterre are billowing flower borders, and beyond that, a wilderness of winding woodland walks.

The poolhouse, a design of M Group, opens on the west to a pergola and infinity pool creating the effect of endless water as the pool blends into the reservoir on the horizon. The owner, a devoted gardener, loves native plants. Chartreuse foliage is a connecting link in the planting design, which features Rhus ‘Tiger Eyes,’ a variety of native sumac, and blowsy Deutzia ‘Chardonnay Pearls.’ Naturalized meadows lead to the reservoir.


2014 IDA Winner Landscape: Doyle Herman Design Associates

Innovator 2: Doyle Herman Design Associates
A series of garden rooms adheres to a strong central axis

This classic estate is the rare project that both James Doyle and Kathryn Herman, principals at Doyle Herman Design Associates, worked on together. “We were hired to do everything but the house,” says Kathryn Herman, and that entailed breaking up the property into a sequence of garden rooms. The Colonial-revival home helped set the tone. “But, characteristically, our work is restrained. We use a limited palette of plant material—not overdoing things. And that’s what makes it look sophisticated. That’s the pretty part,” she adds. “But we are good at figuring out the really difficult parts, too.” In this instance, that included a heavy-duty drainage system.

A strong axis runs through the very center of house and out to the pool. The line is bordered with boxwood, which defines the sightline, and paired with box-flank entrances to the pool, which is surrounded on the inside by a perennial border. The border is only three feet wide, so plantings are a single plant deep. “We put in blocks of varying length: peonies, Achilliea Mollis, ostrich fern, black mondo grass,” says Herman. And there’s a planting of Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy,’ because the owner requested burgundy-leaved trees.

The convex mirror-polished stainless steel sculpture by David Harber located next to the pool gives the garden a modern feel. “We feel very strongly it is important to put art into the garden,” says Herman. “Such a wonderful piece keeps it fresh and lively and adds personality.” 


2014 IDA Winner Landscape: Cummin Associates, Inc.

Innovator 3: Cummin Associates, Inc.
Understanding and honoring diversity in a lush landscape

Landscape architect Peter Cummin, a Brit, has created gardens in 27 states, as well as from the West Indies to England. (Currently, he is working on the third home of England’s King Henry VIII, which stands just outside London.) Cummin is renowned for his ability to transform ordinary plots into something extraordinary through careful manipulation of sightlines and plantings. 

This Greenwich residence, for example, was taken on as a screening project. But over the course of several years, the project morphed into a redesign of the entire eight-acre landscape. The master plan connects all of the garden spaces on the property. “The look of the garden has to agree with the architecture,” says Cummin. “You want it to look as if it had always been there.” By maintaining the existing tree canopy and carefully reworking the masonry to match what already was onsite, he created a maze of walled gardens and stone walkways that is a Tudor-American hybrid. 

You might wonder how anyone who works in so many far-flung countries can know his plants. “We always head to the cemeteries first,” says Cummin. “If we find a plant that grows well, we’ll use more of it. I’d rather use five common plants that grow like blazes than 10 rare alpines.” To keep the look clean, for large spaces he uses fewer varieties; smaller spaces can take more diversity. Because of his vast knowledge of plants, Cummin is also known for introducing lesser-known plant varieties to the mix. “The neighbors eventually manage to get some, too.” But we know where it started.


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