This week (on Nov. 15, 2018), we got a surprise snowstorm that blanketed our area. And I thought what a great opportunity to go find a few flowers still in bloom amongst the white flakes. One of the first places I thought I could go was one of our client’s yards to take some photos. To my delight, I found several flowers still in bloom. What’s better than a reminder of warmer days as the winter digs in? If you have ever wanted to create a garden where the colors of summer stay even into late autumn, then this blog entry is for you.
Most of my clients want more style in their lives. Style should make your life easier and more fulfilling. When it comes to landscape design, a master plan is an important step for turning that desire into reality. The best result is to showcase a sensibility that is about sustainability, materials, warmth and modern living. Landscape design enlivens any home. When done right, a master plan navigates decisions a project so that new and old elements of a home look awesome together. It does take time to think through all of the details. Of course, taking the time to do it correctly will pay for itself.
I wanted to do a quick update about the Rain Park. It’s been an amazing year for the project. We have built a huge group of volunteers and contributors. We saw it spring to life. As summer faded, we doubled our efforts to prepare for next year. Public projects like the Rain Park want to be a catalysis for new connections between people and nature. They foster real dialogue between different perspectives as well as help us relax. We are only at the beginning, and the future looks bright.
Another weekend, another Olmsted Park. This time, I found myself with my family in Echo Lake Park in Mountainside, NJ. I realize I’m late to the game in knowing the Olmsteds designed boatload of parks in northern New Jersey, but I’m excited about it anyway. The opportunity to see so many examples of late 19thand early 20thcentury park design is unique. Yet, public parks have had a rough history and many these incredible places show the scars.
This weekend, I took my family to Anderson Park in Montclair, NJ. It’s a beautiful park and a great example of how green spaces hold a unique place in city life both philosophically and literally. When I first found out about it, I was having coffee with a friend. The firm established by Frederick Law Olmsted designed the park. Though most famous for Central Park in Manhattan, Olmsted and his design studio left a legacy spread across the United States. The exact number of parks, campuses and private gardens he and his office completed is well within the thousands. A treasure trove of public parks dots New Jersey…something I didn’t know until I started doing a little research about Anderson Park. Now that I know there’s such a wealth these places, I want to explore them all…and blog about them. Which is why I’m writing about Anderson Park.
We had our unofficial first frost last night. It wasn’t the official, official first frost…that should be around Nov. 10ish. But last night we got a frost that hardly coated windshields and melted at the first sign of sunshine. This first frost marks an important moment in the changing of the seasons. It means that within just a couple more weeks all of the grasses and perennials in our gardens will go dormant and we won’t see them again till next spring. So now is the time to turn your sights on bring nature indoors to enjoy.
Colonial Modern Meadow
The last project I wanted to show exemplifies the opportunity for contemporary design with any style house. This project was master planned in 2015 to 2016. It took three phases over three years to implement entirely. The backyard was overgrown with trees. The trees had grown into the fence in several places and made it a haven for mosquitos. Mulch had been used as a way to define a play area and deal with weeds. During the master plan phase, we looked at hundreds of different options for patios, decks and plantings. The final design called for the backyard to turn into a wildflower meadow, replace an existing hardscape with a new patio and create an area for a vegetable garden.
The first example was a contemporary house that used contemporary landscaping. There aren’t as many modern houses on the market as other styles of homes. This example falls squarely into the more traditional residence type. It isn’t a true colonial but it is definitely in the colonial revival camp. When I met with the owners they were interested in adding a pool in their backyard. They wanted to do something that felt newer than the current look of the house.
This blog is Part Two from the series I created from an article written for the Resource Home Show. Part One focuses on the design process. Part Two looks at what happens after the design process. I use past projects I've done as examples to illustrate how design can become real!
Back in September 2018, I was asked to write an article for The Resource Home Show about what it takes to have a contemporary landscape design. The Resource Home Show was created to bring designers, architects and other creatives together to meet each other and home owners throughout North Jersey. It was a great event! Along with the article, my company installed a temporary living wall for the event. I thought that the info in the article could be useful to the readers of my blog so I'm publishing it in several parts for you to read. Part One is about the design process needed to discover the best way to transform a yard or property. Enjoy!
The Rain Park has gone through lots of changes. With October here, we are marking the first full year of its lifecycle. We finished installing the original mounds in Oct of 2017. Now that fall has arrived, we’ve had a chance to see it through 4 seasons.
I have a project happening right now in Montclair, NJ. We created a master plan for the property and are now installing a phase one for the design. The first phase includes a deck, plantings and fencing along with a few other items.
As the construction moves forward, the clients are thinking of adding lighting to the phase. The master plan includes lighting plans for the entire space, but there’s been some back and forth about the best light fixture for the space.
The past week has been a really great time for designing spaces that sometimes are left unattended. On Sept 30, 2018, we were part of a very cool event called the Resource Home Show where designers, architects and other creative had a chance to get to know local homeowners.
For the event, we designed and installed a Living Wall. The living wall was made of about 70 plants including grasses and perennials.I loved the entire process of creating the wall and having it on display. It was the first time we had created a green wall for an event such as this, but I hope it’s not the last.
Super short post. I was working on a proposal today and created the image below to show the location of where we intended to create a design for a client.
The design is for a small pocket garden bed at the corner of the house. I always enjoy making these simple images for proposals as a special touch to what is usually dry contract language.
First Master Plan, Then Details
I've worked with the client for about 2 years now. The first project was creating a master plan for the front yard of the property. The goal is to have 4-season interest by using perennials and native grasses. Below is a detail of the planting plans for two spaces in the yard.
The Real Thing
Design’s true trajectory is to be created in the real world. For landscape design, real life does want to be a little bit fantasy too. Plants have a mind all their own. However, for this project like many of my projects, we have phased in the plantings. When we phase things in, there’s always a little ability to change things as needed when nature changes its mind too. In the spirit of actualization, I have the two images below. They are from the second round of plantings we did in fall 2017.
Last autumn, we planted over a 1000 crocus in several yards in South Orange and Maplewood. As the days and nights of January get colder and colder, it’s a warm thought that in about a month or so those crocus are going to start popping up adding the first spring colors to the landscape. Bulbs are one of those things you have to wait to see. When you do, they are always worth the wait.
The goal is to make this blog a resource for helpful tips and sustainable ideas. I create original content that shows projects in progress and the behind-the-scenes of installation. And, I try to have as much fun as I can doing it.