Part 2: The Drive Court

rainy-day-2016-7My last post about this project centered around a winding and and most beautifully curvy driveway, and the landscape views proposed by that drive. The major portion of the landscape, including this driveway, was designed with an informal and park like atmosphere in mind. It  features a collection of specimen trees, each one placed individually. It is a property with long views. The placement of the trees involved a lot of walking, and seeing.  The result, to my eye, is a landscape that is natural, and subtly polished. The following pictures are about the landscape immediately adjacent to the house. This part of the landscape dramatically contrasts to the rest of the property. It is as much formal as it is contemporary, in design.

rainy-day-2016-8Formal landscapes are predicated on a series of geometric shapes generated by horizontal and vertical axes. Formal landscapes are usually symmetrical, as in equally representing on both sides of an axis. You may only see the axis as an imaginary line, a construction line drawn on a plan.  Contemporary landscapes can be quite formal, in a geometric sense.  They are not necessarily symmetrical. Both formal and contemporary gardens are more about spacial concepts, ideas or visual tension than they are about individual plants. Contemporary gardens are edited. The less said, the better. Some contemporary landscapes are so minimal that they make my mouth go dry. This landscape is not stark. The shapes of the plants, and the texture they create in numbers is lush.

rainy-day-2016-1 This landscape needed to quietly describe the plane of ground in question, and cleanly describe the geometry of the drive court, and the shapes described by the house.The walk from the garage to the drive court is formally outlined in brick pavers set on end.  The stepping stones are square, and set in grass. This walk is set down in a mass of 18″ Green Gem boxwood on both sides. It is not part of the presentation of the landscape entering the drive court. A secondary walk calls for a secondary and circumspect placement.

the-drive-court-11The widest portion of the east side of the drive court is but 6 feet from the property line. The neighbor graciously agreed to let us encroach on her property just enough to screen the houses from each other, and reiterate the very strong circular shape of the drive court. The boxwood facing down the Joe Burke flexible pines are set on a slight slope. That slope speaks to the rhythm established by the curve of the drive.

rainy-day-2016-4The old spruce in the background of this picture belong to the neighboring property. We did borrow this view. A small and solitary columnar ginkgo to the center left will provide a considerable and beautiful vertical element at the entry to the drive court, once it settles in, and grows.

the-drive-court-10Every green gesture is in service of the long and low architecture of this contemporary home. The horizontal plane dominates the architecture, and the landscape.

the-drive-court-8I believe the landscape respects the strong and compelling geometry of the house. Mind you, this is the first season of the landscape. I am pleased to say all of the plants seem to be making themselves at home. I am happy about that. The strength of the architecture greatly influenced my design, as it should.

the-drive-court-9A custom made planter set in the corner between the house proper and the garage is planted with an incredibly beautiful Japanese maple. Yes, we will try to over winter this maple in the pot. The location is quite protected; this north side niche is stone on three sides, and is partially protected by a generous roof overhang.

the-drive-court-4The view from the opening of the circular drive court reveals a formal and contemporary landscape that quietly celebrates a beautiful example of contemporary architecture.

the-drive-court-5I persuaded the tallest member of my landscape crew to take this picture from inside our dump truck. I wanted to look down on the landscape, and have a view of the house skirted in a simple and low profile landscape.  I knew from the moment that I saw this house, that the landscape would not be able to ignore the architecture. I am fine with the outcome.

dsc_9437The trip back down the driveway on this mid October day, a year after the initial landscape installation, was a good trip indeed.

























  1. I can imagine the owners turning into the driveway after a day away from home. Slowing down and steering up the curving drive enjoying the beautiful evergreens and trees. Welcome to home sweet home where you can relax and leave your worries behind. Lovely.

  2. Your work is amazing!

  3. Beautiful!

  4. Carolyn Bicknell says

    Majestic, powerful, stunning, graceful and quietly beautiful!!

  5. Ruth Woleery says

    This landscape design is so beautiful and perfect for the setting to go with the wonderful contemporary home. It is indeed good enough to be included in a coffee table book to show other people who see the book. You are so kind and unselfish to share your descriptions and photos.
    Thank you Deborah.

  6. Kaye Starnes says

    I am almost speechless. This is stunning!

  7. Pam Bustamante says

    I learn from you with every post. This is beautiful.

  8. Celeta Cavender says

    Your work is amazing, and the fact that you take time to share it with us is just as amazing .

  9. You have the vision to see what a landscape can be. You take a blank canvas and create an exquisite ‘landscape painting’ so beautifully. The mature tree planting is a work of pure genius and gives the setting for the house instant impact. I think that Capability Brown would be proud of you Deborah. xx

  10. Catherine W. says

    What do you do if a few of the shrubs in the mass planting die (say, a taxus in the center drive court planting)? How would you match the size of the surrounding shrubs and fill the hole?

  11. Paige Nugent says

    I love the paver stone walkway lined with the linear stone. I am brainstorming where to use it in my own yard. Wonderful work.

  12. Deborah Silver says

    Dear Catherine, we always order more plants than what we need, for exactly this reason. If a plant is going to fail, it will do so fairly quickly. Gardeners do lose mature plants in landscapes-it can be a real problem replacing them with another plant that matches in size. None of these plants are rare or unusual, so I think we are ok. And we go back periodically to see how everything is doing. All of the plantings are a year old now, and look fine. all the best, Deborah

  13. Deborah Silver says

    Thank you so much, Jean. You are way too kind. Capability Brown may be flipping over in his grave!! xxx Deborah

  14. I am curious – how will this color up through the seasons, if at all?

  15. Deborah Silver says

    Lisa, I am not sure I understand the question. How will what color up? Evergreens darken somewhat in the winter months. On extremely cold days, yews are a black green. best, Deborah

  16. Deborah Silver says

    Dear Paige, my close friend Susan Cohan, who designs and installs landscapes in New Jersey came to visit me-I took her to see this project. She loved the curbs. all the best, Deborah

  17. Deborah Silver says

    Dear Celeta, the unknown and unsung element that so influenced the design is my client. She is amazing. My part was to listen, and do. all the best, Deborah

  18. Deborah Silver says

    Dear Pam, if there is anything from this post that you might take to heart and apply to your own landscape, I am pleased. thanks for writing, Deborah

  19. Deborah Silver says

    Dear Kaye, thanks for your letter. I spent a lot of time resourcing stunning plants for this landscape. Those plants are the star of the show. best, Deborah

  20. Deborah Silver says

    Dear Ruth, the design and planting of a landscape is what I do, and what I like to do best.The sharing of the experience with other gardeners is a pleasure. all the best, Deborah

  21. Deborah Silver says

    Dear Carolyn, if all of your adjectives are true, I am a very happy landscape designer. Thank you for writing! best, Deborah

  22. Deborah Silver says

    Thanks, Pat. That a landscape would be beautiful is what drives my work. best, Deborah

  23. Deborah Silver says

    Dear Pat, I am a hardworking landscape designer. My client is amazing. Nature is even more amazing. I was in a very good place with this project. best, Deborah

  24. Deborah Silver says

    Dear Pam, if there is something you can take away from my discussion of this project, then this essay was worth writing. all the best, Deborah

  25. Deborah Silver says

    Dear Kaye, I am rendered speechless by things I see in nature, routinely. Being a gardener is the best, is it not? best, Deborah

  26. The landscaping and home are perfectly melded. So lovely to the eye. The vistas are spectacular from every vantage point. Thank you for sharing your expertise and creativity. I look forward to every post..

  27. Beautiful and everything seems so perfectly proportioned. What mystifies me a lot about landscaping (I am by no means a professional) but the planning of the plants maturing- what you cannot see now- but the vision in years to come. I think that is the truly amazing part of your work and talent. Thanks for sharing!!

  28. Absolutely beautiful Deborah, it has been fun to see this project over the past few months, thank you for generously sharing your thought process and these beautiful images.

  29. cynthia woodyard says

    Divine Deborah! Wow!

  30. Deborah Silver says

    Dear Cynthia, thank you! I am very pleased that you like it. all the best, Deborah

  31. Visual poetry — beautiful design!!

  32. I just meant the trees and shrubs, do they turn color in the fall? Bloom in the spring? I live in California where we don’t really have the option to landscape all green like this (would have to use tones of brown and gray probably), so I am just trying to picture in my mind how this scenery evolves over the seasons, if at all. To learn from you as much as possible, even though I can’t replicate your designs for my own garden.

  33. Deborah Silver says

    Dear Lisa, all of the plants in the drive court are evergreens. They keep their needles and leaves all year round, and do not change color with the seasons. The deciduous trees in other places in the landscape are not noted for their flowers or fruit.They are noted for their forms and leaf shapes. And yes, they do have fall color before they drop their leaves. best, Deborah

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