Get to Know Landscape Architect Quincy Hammond
HC&G: How does a girl from Georgia end up designing gardens in the Hamptons?
Quincy Hammond, founder, Quincy Hammond Landscape Architecture: My father ran a plant nursery that had been started by my grandfather, and he made my brother and me work from the time I was 10. I hated it—it was always hot, like 100 degrees! My parents didn’t want me to pursue art when I went to university, so studying landscape architecture was my sneaky way of doing something creative.
And now you have offices in both New York and Georgia.
Yes. I was in Atlanta for a bit after college, and then went to work for [landscape architect] Ed Hollander in New York City. But when my uncle died unexpectedly and left me the family homestead, which dates from the late 1800s, I went back to Georgia to take care of things. It shifted the trajectory of my life, and I took that tragedy as an opportunity to do my own thing. I started my own firm, and some clients followed me, including Abercrombie & Fitch. Despite having two offices, though, I try to keep only about six projects active at a time, so I can see them often and be present during installations.
Your work has a European sensibility to it.
I’m a little conflicted about it. Wherever your garden is located, the plant palette that nature allows you to use should automatically determine a sense of place. But I have studied a lot of European gardens and have been fortunate enough to travel often to Europe, where I have projects in England, France, and Spain. I’ve also gone to nurseries in Italy to tag plants for clients.
What’s your favorite European garden?
The Prieuré Notre-Dame d’Orsan, in central France. The hornbeams are beautifully trimmed into windows and walls, and one is clipped to mimic a stone tower at the entrance. There are even hornbeam buttresses you can walk under. The way the French can manipulate hornbeam is incredible.
What defines a Hamptons garden for you?
I am always amazed by the presence of huge trees on East End properties. And hydrangeas, of course, which grow so beautifully in the Hamptons. Plus, the generous use of gravel: I like the softness of it, the feeling underfoot, and the sound it makes. It’s a casual material, but it works even in the most formal gardens.
A version of this article appeared in the September/October 2016 issue of HC&G (Hamptons Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: A Formal Affair.