Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Mired In Tradition

Last Sunday, in Bucks County, PA, I went on my second Open Days garden crawl of the season. These visits recharge my creative juices and offer me a first hand opportunity to see what other landscape designers and talented amateurs have created. I look carefully, take photographs and experience the gardens in three dimensions. Being in a garden is so much different than looking at pictures of one especially for a designer as interested in creating spatial relationships as I am.

What I already knew, and what three of the gardens I visited confirmed, is that on the east coast, those with the means to build a landscape of substance opt to emulate traditional English gardens. The old stone houses and barns that give Buck's County its lure form the backdrop for the gardens. Although one garden had a beautifully enhanced woodland, there was not one meadow in the acres and acres of mixed borders and mowed turfgrass that I saw. Planting styles differed within these gardens but the traditional garden design paradigm did not.

A rustic twig bridge in the woodland at Hortulus Farm Garden & Nursery

There were some beautiful vignettes and ideas within these classic schemes. One, at Willow Farm, had a grey/blue and burgundy palette juxtaposed with honey hued native stone that I particularly liked.

Blue/grey and burgundy plants with native honey colored stone

Another, at Hortulus, had a bold yellow planting scheme punctuated by a large terra cotta urn that was dramatic and interesting.

Yellow and terra cotta in combination at Hortulus

A third really great idea was again, at Hortulus. The formal fountain at the far end of a double mixed border was actually a swimming pool. It read as a fountain until you noticed the steps. This idea could be adapted for many different situations both grand and intimate.

The swimming pool fountain

This contrast between classic and contemporary design was magnified by the last stop of the day, an interior designer's shop in Lambertville, NJ, Reinboth & Company. I try to check this small shop out each time I'm in the area since it is really well edited. The garden accessories in their courtyard were clean, crisp and modern. It seemed restful and welcome after a day of observing such traditional points of view.

Contemporary garden accessories at Reinboth & Co.


Sarah said...

Gorgeous pics. You really have some superb gardens to visit in your neck of the woods.

My problem re: traditional vs modern is I like both! I'm drooling over the swimming pool fountain, but I love the clean lines of the orbs and squares too.

Seasonal Wisdom said...

Hi: I agree with Sarah. I love both styles, especially when combined unexpectedly together. Thanks for sharing the lovely photos. Makes me homesick for those years spent in Virginia and New England. Teresa

Chloe said...

Hi I think you have a wonderful eye! Love the pics... and you are right... you gotta be there!

Susan aka Miss. R said...

Thank you for the support and taking the time to read Miss R. I wish there were more opportunities to create contemporary spaces in my region. The 'play against type' relationship of a modern garden with an old home can really be interesting.

LeonaGaita said...

The swimming pool with a fountain is really dreamy! Great idea combining a classical fountain with a functional swimming pool.