GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2008 show37
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Show #37/1311
Landscape Lessons From A 1920's Estate


The Driveway
THE LANDSCAPING PROCESS STARTED AT THE DRIVEWAY. They decided to start with the entrance drive because that provided the first impression when approaching the house. Diane suggested they remove about 600 trees. These were mainly Red Maples and Junipers and neither of those 2 species have a long term life span. When they took them out they replanted with trees that last a long time, things like Oak, Beech trees, etc., trees that live for hundreds of years. They added both young and medium sized trees. They also added a whole layer of flowering trees. Trees like Dogwoods and Shadblows which typically grow in the very front of a woodland edge. These are trees that like a bit of filtered light.

Click here for more info

The Courtyard
IN THE COURTYARD THE PLANTINGS ARE MORE FORMAL than what we've seen coming up the driveway. Even the hedges are interesting. The Taxus baccata 'Yew' is a more formal hedge. In the hierarchy of hedges it is the most formal. It has a very dark green leaf, it can be clipped continuously so it is used as the outside hedge to frame the courtyard. As one steps in a bit they've used Buxus sempervirens, the Boxwood which is a little lighter green but still very formal. But formally it is probably one level below the Taxus hedge. In contrast to the Boxwood they planted Ericaceae Rhododendron, one of the dwarf Rhododendrons.

Click here for more info

The Pool Area
JOE AND DIANE NEXT VISIT THE POOL AREA. To Joe it feels more like a garden than a pool area. There is a reason for that. Lisa requested a perennial garden. Initially there was a large area of blue stone that wasn't necessary. They added a lawn and added a perennial planting all the way around the outside of the pool, near the walls. This created a problem because there is shade on one side, sun on the other thus they worked it out in plan. Here they have, for example, Pelonium that tolerates shade on one side, which is counterbalanced with Delphinium 'Larkspur' on the other side. Color wise they look similar but they thrive in the different light conditions. This perennial garden was designed to be mainly blues, a little bit of yellow and a little white.

Click here for more info

Lily Garden
TO GET TO THE LILY GARDEN ONE TAKES A FORMAL SET OF STAIRS. They're solid masonry steps made of blue stone and more related to the house. As one descends into the garden area the steps break down into a combination of stone and grass. Here the pond is really the star. Joe can't tell how deep the pool is, it's all black. This pond was designed as a reflecting pond and is colored black from a dye that was put into the water. Typically, centuries ago it would have been painted black but here they choose dye because paint has a tendency to peel off. It is colored black enabling one to see in the reflection, the clouds, the trees and from a certain distance the house itself. Several plants have been added.

Click here for more info

The Back Terrace
THEY NEXT VISIT THE BACK TERRACE. Diane feels this was one of the more interesting pieces of the property that they worked on. There was an old terrace here previously but it wasn't really functional. There were some issues with steps coming out of the house and how to use the space for entertaining but also they wanted to make it intimate enough where as a family they would be comfortable sitting down and having a meal. They came up with the idea of having plants wrap around the base of the house and a parterre in the middle of each terrace. This is not something typically done in the U.S., more commonly here we just have large terraces.

Click here for more info

The Herb Garden
THE HERB GARDEN IS CLASSIC AND QUITE INTERESTING. Lisa has traveled extensively and is interested in a number of different ethnic foods. Thus she has herbs such as Perilla frutescens which is typically used in Japanese cooking. They have Cymbopogon citrates (Lemongrass) which is used in Thai cooking.

Click here for more info

 


LINKS:

Diane Devore

Rainbeau Ridge Farm

Homestead Inn

Garden Smart Plant List



Complete transcript of the show.


In this episode Garden Smart goes behind the gates of an 1920's estate in New York. It is a beautiful place. Lisa, who with her husband are the owners of this beautiful estate, fills us in on its' history. When built and in its heyday it was fantastic but like many old homes, over the years it had been neglected. When Lisa first saw the property the architectural detail was apparent but so was the neglect and age. The place had fallen into disrepair both inside and out. Lisa first wanted to go out and plant a garden but realized they must first stabilize the house. It was in sufficient disrepair that if the time wasn't spent putting in things like a new roof, upgrading electrical and plumbing and essentially bringing it into this century they weren't going to have a house to work on. So, they spent the first 5 years tackling the infrastructure. Their efforts are immediately apparent.
Joe notices that today the front of the house and the back look very different. The front has a more formal, rigid characteristic and the back although still imposing is more relaxed and a little less forbidding. Lisa took that into account in both the interior decor as well as the landscape.
The landscape looks as if it were original, as if it had been here 100 years. And, that was the goal when landscaping. They were fortunate to have had some trees that probably were here 50 to 100 years ago. Some trees are natural and native to the area and some were probably planted when the house was built. The overriding goal with the property has been to return the place to original.
Lisa had no idea when they bought the property 20 years ago that at one point this had been a gentleman's farm. They were unaware that any kind of farming background existed. But neighbors and community members brought that fact to their attention. One gentleman gave them a map of the place that was dated 1928 and showed the property contained even more acreage than they have today and that it had a farming background. That fact is particularly interesting because Lisa and her husband had started farming before they knew this fact. Today they are growing produce and raising dairy goats.
Several hundred feet away from the home is a completely different scene, it's clearly a farm. This is on a contiguous piece of property, part of the parcels they've reassembled over the course of years. Here they grow an extensive amount of produce, everything from heirloom tomatoes to 30 plus varieties of lettuce, zucchini to peas and beans. It is a self sustaining farm, they wouldn't need to leave the farm to eat, to survive. In addition to the produce, they raise poultry for eggs, they have dairy goats which they milk every day and then make a wonderful goat cheese.
Lisa feels there is something about this land that's pulling them back in the farming direction. And they're growing things the old fashioned way in terms of organics and pesticides. They're small scale so they don't have to be high tech. They use minimal amounts of medication for their goats and animals, and only, if needed. It's all about organic and natural. They're trying to make sure they do good for themselves, with the produce and the food and importantly they feel they must maintain and preserve the land.
Lisa opens the farm for all to come and see. It's about sharing and building community. They do this through a variety of programs and activities. For more info on the farm and their activities visit their web site listed below.
Joe is anxious to learn more about the landscaping around the property, particularly around the home. Lisa explains that she and her husband have had the vision but they didn't have the skill sets or ability to actualize that vision when it came time to develop the landscape design for the property. Through their partnership with Diane Devore they were able to take the property and make the landscaping what it is today.
Joe meets Diane at the main driveway leading up to the front of the house. And, it is spectacular. The driveway and grass on both sides leads ones eye right up to the front entrance of the home. Diane says that this property was very much a collaboration between Lisa, her husband Mark, and her. Diane suggested they retain the character of this 1920's estate. She wanted the design to reflect what it used to be - very simple, not having a feeling of a landscape architect being here, that it retain the original sense and feeling.
Diane tells us about herself. Her father was an avid farmer. He had cows and sheep, he was a gentleman farmer and raised everything organically. So Lisa's vision and Diane's background were a great mix. Diane received an undergraduate degree in horticulture from Delaware Valley College and a Master's in Landscape Architecture from Cornell University. Diane feels her academic background combined with her family background based in horticulture and organics made a great fit. She has worked on this property with Lisa for almost 10 years.
THE LANDSCAPING PROCESS STARTED AT THE DRIVEWAY. They decided to start with the entrance drive because that provided the first impression when approaching the house. Diane suggested they remove about 600 trees. These were mainly Red Maples and Junipers and neither of those 2 species have a long term life span. When they took them out they replanted with trees that last a long time, things like Oak, Beech trees, etc., trees that live for hundreds of years. They added both young and medium sized trees. They also added a whole layer of flowering trees. Trees like Dogwoods and Shadblows which typically grow in the very front of a woodland edge. These are trees that like a bit of filtered light. In front of these they planted a meadow. They added the meadow to add more diversity to the property and to enable different types of wildlife to inhabit the area. They now have Bluebirds. And, they never before had Bluebirds because it was just a forest. Thus they have a 200 year plan with the trees but the meadow is a more short term plan.
Joe and Diane move on. As one moves up the driveway and clears the beautiful, big tree there is an amazing reveal of the house. The driveway was totally different in times past. At that point the driveway went straight up to the front door. Diane, Lisa and Mark decided that the architecture of the house was so beautiful that it would be much nicer to be able to drive by the house, see the entire facade of the house, turn around and arrive in the courtyard. One of the first things they did was create a low wall with a set of steps leading out towards the driveway so that when passing by it invites you to the front door. The trick was getting the stonework to match the house but they accomplished that. The stone wall also and importantly created a view that framed the house. It creates an elevation yet the house and courtyard are completely flat, creating 2 grades. In addition, they added 2 tiers on either side of the courtyard adding to the effectiveness of the courtyard. It provides a courtyard feeling to the entrance to the house which is a more formal approach and is very fitting for this style house.
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IN THE COURTYARD THE PLANTINGS ARE MORE FORMAL than what we've seen coming up the driveway. Even the hedges are interesting. The Taxus baccata 'Yew' is a more formal hedge. In the hierarchy of hedges it is the most formal. It has a very dark green leaf, it can be clipped continuously so it is used as the outside hedge to frame the courtyard. As one steps in a bit they've used Buxus sempervirens, the Boxwood which is a little lighter green but still very formal. But formally it is probably one level below the Taxus hedge. In contrast to the Boxwood they planted Ericaceae Rhododendron, one of the dwarf Rhododendrons. It has a bronzy undertone to the leaves which pulls off a bit of the rust tones visible in the stone on the house. They were looking for continuous hold so for summer color they've added containers. There are 4 large pots in the main courtyard where they planted Hydrangeaceae and added some simple Ivy underneath.
Top


JOE AND DIANE NEXT VISIT THE POOL AREA. To Joe it feels more like a garden than a pool area. There is a reason for that. Lisa requested a perennial garden. Initially there was a large area of blue stone that wasn't necessary. They added a lawn and added a perennial planting all the way around the outside of the pool, near the walls. This created a problem because there is shade on one side, sun on the other thus they worked it out in plan. Here they have, for example, Pelonium that tolerates shade on one side, which is counterbalanced with Delphinium 'Larkspur' on the other side. Color wise they look similar but they thrive in the different light conditions. This perennial garden was designed to be mainly blues, a little bit of yellow and a little white. Diane believes it is most helpful to make a list of what's going to be in bloom during the different months so that you have continuous bloom throughout the year. To cover all angles they do have a few annuals. Accordingly they tuck in a little Browawallia viscusa 'Sapphire' and Petunia x hybrida. They pick out annuals that have a more wispy characteristic so they look more like a perennial but add pop to provide continuous summer color.
Joe notices the lawn furniture on top of the grass. In a lot of cases the lawn underneath would be dying out but here the grass is healthy. The maintenance people mow, then slide the whole set over. This way the grass is fine. Grass is much cooler under foot than the stone, the whole area is substantially cooler than if a solid blue stone pavement.
Top


TO GET TO THE LILY GARDEN ONE TAKES A FORMAL SET OF STAIRS. They're solid masonry steps made of blue stone and more related to the house. As one descends into the garden area the steps break down into a combination of stone and grass. Here the pond is really the star. Joe can't tell how deep the pool is, it's all black. This pond was designed as a reflecting pond and is colored black from a dye that was put into the water. Typically, centuries ago it would have been painted black but here they choose dye because paint has a tendency to peel off. It is colored black enabling one to see in the reflection, the clouds, the trees and from a certain distance the house itself. Several plants have been added. Tropical Nymphaea odorata (water lilies), Nelumbium speciosum (Lotus) have been utilized and they have survived several years in this environment. Rush Pontederia cordata (Pickerel weed) has been added to provide interest and color during the summer months. Joe likes the amount of plants - not too many, not too few. This area was originally full of evergreen trees. They transplanted about 30 evergreen trees, they moved very well to the periphery of the area where they act as screening. But this was originally a hill. They took took the fill from the top elevation, used it at the bottom, then leveled them all off. Thus they created a series of 3 level gardens with the middle elevation the area with the pond. The pond is in the center of this level. Surrounding this area is more of a summer garden. This garden has roses, Lilies, Caryopteris clandonensis. It is meant as a place one would want to walk during the summer months. It provides a great view of the house. Looking back from the far end of the garden one gets a beautiful view of the architecture of the house. Diane believes that every garden should have a certain season or reason one would want to visit. This garden has entryways coming in and out of the garden adding extra mystery, which is an added plus.
Top


THEY NEXT VISIT THE BACK TERRACE. Diane feels this was one of the more interesting pieces of the property that they worked on. There was an old terrace here previously but it wasn't really functional. There were some issues with steps coming out of the house and how to use the space for entertaining but also they wanted to make it intimate enough where as a family they would be comfortable sitting down and having a meal. They came up with the idea of having plants wrap around the base of the house and a parterre in the middle of each terrace. This is not something typically done in the U.S., more commonly here we just have large terraces. One might be more likely to see something like this in Europe. Importantly, this does make it more of a garden space. In these parterres Diane has used clip Boxwood and in the center, right now, they have it planted with Petunia hybrida. In the spring they put in Viola x wittrockiana (Pansies) and Tulips which add quite a bit of color to the terrace. On the edge they've introduced a sitting area or wall that is 18 inches tall. This is a very comfortable height to sit and allows them to lose hundreds of chairs that would be needed on a terrace this size. Yet they can still entertain, they can have a large group of people, it is comfortable to hold a drink or a plate of food, and importantly it works well with the architecture of the house. Each wall is terminated by a small pier on which they've placed a container with more color. In these containers they've used Verbena x hybrid with Pelargonium x hortorum (Geranium) in the middle. These containers are reflected by the 2 urns flanking each door and they are filled with Ipomoea batatas (Sweet potato vine) and Asparagus densiflorus 'Sprengeri.' Next to the house they have climbing Rosa in the coral color, just to pick up on the fabric of the furniture. Thus they did tie in the architecture as they did in the front.
Top


THE HERB GARDEN IS CLASSIC AND QUITE INTERESTING. Lisa has traveled extensively and is interested in a number of different ethnic foods. Thus she has herbs such as Perilla frutescens which is typically used in Japanese cooking. They have Cymbopogon citrates (Lemongrass) which is used in Thai cooking. Diane thinks what makes it fun is the low fence. They have 2 dogs who run through everything and because of the problems they created in this garden they decided to design and install a very low fence. It's very open but does keep the animals from running through.
An herb garden is often placed outside the kitchen for convenience. Here the grill is nearby. But what is unique is the grill is surrounded by a tall, dark green Yew hedge. The Yew separates the grill from the terrace yet one can easily move back and forth. If having a dinner party the guests aren't sitting there with the smoke going in their faces yet the chef can easily move between the grill and the guests and the herb garden.
Diane thinks a lesson that applies to everyone is that one needs to carefully look at their property. Every setting has something that's intrinsically beautiful. In this case where Joe and Diane are standing are old tree roots. Diane used those to form a bridge to the path. Sometimes it's going out and looking at the light, the way its hitting the leaves on the trees. Diane was just looking at her property and noticed a beautiful Pine and Red Maple and realized the way the light filtered through the leaves was beautiful. She decided that she should never plant another tree in front of the those trees. So, go out and look at the sky, look at the ground, look all around and find something that really speaks to you. When you find that, enhance that. It will make your surroundings even more beautiful.
Joe can't add to that thought. He appreciates the time Diane has spent with us. She has been a joy to spend time with and a wealth of knowledge. Thank you Diane, we've enjoyed this visit.
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LINKS:

Diane Devore

Rainbeau Ridge Farm

Homestead Inn

Garden Smart Plant List


   
 
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