A remarkable, turn-of-the-century center-hall brick colonial standing prominently in the center of a sacred Olmsted-designed watershed underwent substantial renovations that obliterated the surrounding mature landscape. The spectacular multi-acre site boasts mature oaks and maples, wonderful stone outcroppings, and dramatic changes in topography. Established hydrological patterns presented wonderful opportunities to reimagine a derelict trout pond that had experienced a complete vegetative collapse in the face of an aggressive muskrat colony. The edges of the pond were completely scoured to bare clay, and the water quality was almost irreversibly compromised. Remnant outdoor spaces were poorly defined, and the property lacked an overriding vision that could parallel the historic home’s grand presence.
The homeowners requested an environmentally conscientious masterplan that could be installed in phases. Despite the building’s private setting, the clients sought clear divisions between public and private zones of the property. They desired a landscape that could simultaneously respect traditional aspects of the house by blending sophisticated, yet relaxed outdoor experiences to allow the busy family of five time to absorb their incredible surroundings, just minutes from downtown urban Boston.The verdant new landscape is designed to support a variety of uses that preserve and enhance the property’s ecological systems. Rather than fight the complex existing conditions, the designers embraced them fully by integrating landscape spaces and experiences within the context of the site.
The scale of the home’s formal entries is complemented by the thoughtful arrangement of mature, broadleaf evergreens, and casual drifts of shade-loving woodland perennials and groundcovers create a sublime sense of arrival beneath the canopies of existing preserved dogwoods. New stone, brick, and cobble walkways surrounded by flowing masses of durable, fragrant perennials, lead to separate sitting and dining terraces positioned to absorb and frame dramatic views of the property. A kitchen garden, abundant with herbs, becomes a fulfilling domestic amenity, and rose beds replete with ever-blooming knockout hybrids create an exquisite setting for entertainment and relaxation.
The once compromised pond was strategically dredged and revived with large, expansive swaths of native wetland plants; a dazzling year-round amenity has quickly taken hold. Lotus, waterlilies, and other essential aquatic plants create oxygen-rich water where frogs, turtles, ducks, and geese congregate throughout the summer. Mown lawn areas are converted to seasonally managed meadow, and large black tupelo, viburnum, clethra, and ilex create excellent multi-seasonal foliage displays.The new landscape consciously engages with several different types of established ecological systems, and the project has inspired the family to actively and passively enjoy their surroundings. All plantings are pollinator-friendly, and reviving the pond’s health has created excellent habitat conditions that spill beyond site boundaries; balanced wildlife patterns are now visible. For these clients, this project has inspired an enduring sense of stewardship that contributes substantially to the health and vitality of the surrounding watershed.
Collaborators: Claudia Noury-Ello Architects, Robert Hanss Landscape Construction, Michael Coffin Landscape Construction, Downing Northeast, Robert Lawrence Builders, Eco-Terra, Shadows and Light, PreCourt, Bay State Irrigation, Olde New England Granite, Select Horticulture, Artemesia Perennial Supply, The Garden Concierge
2017 International Gold Award from the Association of Professional Landscape Designers
2013 APLD New England Chapter Annual Garden Tour