More On The Warm-Up

Forty years after the fact, some of the landscape attending this fabulous home designed by Irv Tobocman is perilously overgrown.  Every gardener knows this-no garden, no landscape pays any mind to the pause button. Everything in the landscape is either moving forward, or declining.  A lower level terrace opens up a garden below grade-the natural slope of the property is retained by yet another brick wall. The brick wall is barely visible any more.  Most of the material here-I relocated.      I restored the view of the ground plane, and a view of the brick retaining wall. The Limelight hydrangeas, and the columnar gingko trees were planted above the wall-on the street side.  This brick wall is set invisibly into a natural slope; the view out the lower level of the house-beautiful. 

The gingkos trees underplanted with Limelight hydrangeas make for a substantial statement from the street.  The brick and gravel garden outside the lower level of the house-a completely private garden.   

A mini dog run for a mini dog named Pookie, and two mature crabapples are viewed prominently from the grilling terrace.  This space needed some tending to.  Areas like this I call a can opener.  Everyone has owned a can opener that works poorly-but for some reason, it doesn’t get replaced until it is about to fall apart.  Only then you realize what an aggravation it was to wrestle with, and how much better it is to have a tool that works.  The landscape here-not working so well.  Making this space look better- a breeze.  

Boxwood would enclose and remove most of the the dog run from view.  A thicket of hosta sieboldiana elegans will completely carpet the ground below the crabapples-this update aims for lush. 

The small space between the pool deck and the tall brick wall asks for a green and year round softening.  I am looking at an embarrassment of riches in hard surfaces here.  Modern can mean austere-but I like my austere a little more elegant than this.  My clients have no need to view the pool filtration pipes.  The intersection of concrete aggregate pool deck and brick wall will benefit from something living. 

I stuffed that small space with boxwood, and planted Boston Ivy on the wall.  It will make for a vibrantly green enclosure for the pool in no time. Pools generally have giant paved spaces around them-for obvious reasons.  But this does not mean they have to be cold.    

This bare gravelly space at the base of a U-shaped arrangement of very tall brick walls-stony, barky-neglected.  Though not in immediate view from the pool terrace, the look on the other side of the wall is not a good one.  An out of sight-out of mind spot.       

I planted Limelight hydrangeas here-with the idea that they would form a tall groundcover. Come summer, the flower heads will pop up above this pool wall, and bloom. The wall was necessary; it enabled a flat space large enough to build a pool.  The hydrangeas will obscure the indented portion of the wall from view, and strengthen the view of the flat portion of the wall.  

The far end of the pool deck is home to a sternly utilitarian black iron fence.  This row of hydrangeas will mitigate that jail-like look, and provide the landscape from the street with its third planting of hydrangeas.  The large block, the small block, and the single row will visually describe this large property from one end the other from the outside.  On the inside, they punctuate and soften all the hard surfaces.     

By next summer, there will be much more of a landscape to enjoy.


  1. No need to wait for summer. You’ve already warmed it up by several degrees despite the outdoor temps headed in the other direction. Simply, beautiful.

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