A fresh approach to a colonial house
is what one might call this garden design. The Westbrook residence
has the right mixture of colonial formality blended with the
soft textures and riotous color almost demanded by the discriminating
gardener of today. Situated on a high windswept lot facing
due west, the home presented a good test of plant selection
for designer Dave Reitz of Dietrick Landscapes. In many areas
of the property, layers of red shale lay just a few inches
below existing grade. Lastly, deer are becoming more and more
of a problem in this area causing plant selections to be limited
to deer resistant species.
Pulling from the colonial architecture, Dave chose a formal
walkway design accentuating the straight driveway approach
to the home. The brick is a molded, flashed, clay brick by
Glen Gerry. Sweeping across the end of the walk where it meets
the driveway, the planting bed separates the large front lawn
from the more intimate space near the front door. All plantings
in this bed are intentionally low to preserve the view of
the house. Positioned to the right side, Sugar maples and
White pines frame the house and provide balance to the steep
banks on the left of the house. The lamppost is well sited.
Clipped boxwood are the only formally arranged plants in the
front planting and are spaced wide and away from the brick
foundation to allow views to the brick detail as well as the
louvered vents. A formal Hornbeam adds some depth to the front
planting and frames the main part of the house. A Jelena witchazel
glows for about a month during the winter against the cream
siding on the front of the garage.
Around to the rear of the home, the client wished to have
a perennial border to be viewed from the house with places
for birds and garden art. Privacy was needed at the lower
patio from the neighbors to the side. A sand mound needed
softening. Long views need to be preserved while minimizing
views to neighboring lower property. A circular lawn panel
was introduced to create an outdoor room and to move the perennial
border out far enough from the house to be seen from the elevated
first floor. Irregular bluestone steppingstones create a whimsical
occasional path from the driveway to the rear deck steps.
Twin Trident maples create an entry to the garden space. Boxwood
lend structure to the oval lawn panel and unify the jumble
of colorful shrubs, perennials, and grasses, that make up
the border. Below the brick retaining wall, an elegant shady
retreat is treated very simply with low ground cover, a Sweetbay
magnolia for screening from the neighbors, and more color
along the base of the wall. Hawthorns were used to soften
the sand mound without drawing attention.
As expected, deer have become a problem. The Blue hollies
are being slightly browsed in winter and eventually will need
replacement if conditions deteriorate further. Liriope does
well during the growing season and the deer just do a nice
job of cutting back during the winter.
Installation was only made difficult by the shale. Removing
shale wherever planting beds are is the only solution. We
removed loads!! Good bed preparation with lots of compost
and topsoil assured survival in the drought of 1999.
We may be criticized for not designing a garden with authentic
colonial era plants. If we know Thomas Jefferson and William
Bartram spent their gardening time always trying new plants,
shouldn’t we do the same?
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