Up And Down The Driveway

december-5-2015-062In November of last year, I wrote about the challenges posed by refurbishing a landscape while a new driveway was under construction. GP Enterprises managed to plant a number of big trees, including European green beech, tricolor beech, Norway spruce, fastigiate hornbeam and sweet gum, with a digger truck – as the old driveway was being torn out. This collection of specimen trees were placed mindful of the views established by the placement of the driveway. The property had previously been densely planted with Norway spruce on the east and west lot lines, for privacy.  The client was more interested in a more park like landscape which would make the trip up and down the driveway an interesting trip. Needless to say, they like trees. The rounded tree a little left of center in the above picture is a 10″ caliper tricolor beech. Behind and to the right of the beech is a very old, previously existing, weeping Norway spruce.  As the lower branches had lost needles with age, a semicircular wrap of American arborvitae was planted behind it.

december-2015-3The arborvitae added a lot of green weight to the old Norway, and to this entry view. On the right, a columnar sweet gum.  In the distance, to the left, a big beech. The new driveway was an enormous undertaking, and is quite wide.  Part of the beauty of it is a curb that defines the shape and direction of the drive. The adjacent ground was regraded so it rolls gracefully down to that curb.

Deborah Silver And Company Landscape DesignThe drive up, and the drive back down does a great job of telling the landscape story. These pictures were taken very early on a cold morning in December, just after the project was finished. Seeing a landscape just after dawn permits the eye to focus on the composition and shapes, rather than color or texture.

december-2015-7The architect did such a great job of setting this contemporary house low, on the crest of a property that rises steadily from the road, and falls steeply to to a lake on the far side. The right fork in the drive goes to the garage, the left fork to the front door.  The low dome of ground that separates the two helps sink the driveway down, and delays the visual presentation of the house to the final approach of the drive. Whomever designed the location of the drive, and the grading adjacent to the house did a great job.

december-5-2015-044The landscape near the house is low, and simple, and entirely evergreen. If you live in a cold climate you know how important it is to have an evergreen presence in the landscape. The circular drive court was redone first. All of the landscape material for this area was delivered all at once, and staged on tarps on this drive court. Once the plants arrived, the old driveway disappeared. We could no longer drive trucks to this area. The planting was slow going until we have enough plants in the ground to relieve some of the congestion.  In the foreground are masses Green Gem boxwood, 12-15″ tall.  My landscape superintendent Dan, pictured above, did a beautiful job directing the installation.

december-2015-9This circular bed of taxus capitata spreader yews features 24″ tall plants at the center, and 36″ tall plants at the outside edge.

december-2015-17The pinus flexilis “Joe Burke” that screen the neighboring property to the left are faced down by the same “Green Gem” that are planted elsewhere.

december-5-2015-028An existing hedge of upright yews was transplanted just outside the drive court, and is accompanied by a fastigiate mugho pine, and more of the Green Gem boxwood. An existing Katsura on the left has company in a fastigiate gingko on the right.

december-2015-1A path from the garage drive to the drive court was set inset in the ground cover boxwood, and is not visible from the drive until you reach this point.  Against the foundation is a hedge of the spreading cap yews. Separating the cap yews and boxwood is a ribbon of gravel.  This provides space for the plants to grow, and it provides access for maintenance.  All of these evergreens are on drip irrigation. Once the path was fionished, grass would be planted between the stepping stones.

december-2015-2The view out from the house is equally as circumspect as the view up to the house. The beautiful shape of the land here, and a trio of spruce are the feature of the mid ground space. The rows of boxwood provide contrast to the informal landscape in the background.

Deborah Siver and CDompany landscape design The grade of the return view down the drive is quite different than the approach views. On the left, a group of columnar Serbian spruce.  In the mid ground, a large green beech, and the blue needled abies candicans. In the distance, the semi-circle of American arborvitae.

december-2015-5Another beech was planted on the far side of the drive, and is the centerpiece of this view. To the right, a group of white pine. Behind the American arborvitae, a massive and old weeping Norway spruce.

december-2015-8We finished the last bit of the work in mid December 0f 2015. I drove up and down the drive more than just a few times. It was a quiet summer for this phase of the landscape.  Every tree was busy moving in to their new homes, and putting down roots.

















  1. Jennifer Taylor says

    It is all quite spectacular. If this is the driveway and landscape/arboretum, I can only imagine the house!

  2. Elizabeth Marchetta says

    You are, quite simply, a genius. I cannot wait for your posts. I hope, someday, to have you redesigning for me here, outside of Cleveland.

  3. Nancy Moses says

    Quite magnificent. Are the yews set in a circular bed meant to be higher on outer edge than in the center for a bowl effect? Are there up lights in the center? Thanks for sharing such a beautiful setting. Nancy

  4. Deborah Silver says

    Dear Nancy, the yews are meant to be higher on the outside than in the center. There are no lights in the center. all the best, Deborah

  5. Deborah Silver says

    Dear Elizabeth, I am a landscape designer who writes about my process. I think I am unusual in that regard. There are so many great landscape designers. Not so many of them write about their work. I do believe that great design is local, and plentiful. So pleased that you read my posts – thanks! all the best, Deborah

  6. Deborah Silver says

    Dear Jennifer, we did install a landscape in the back yard this year-a post about that is to come. Next year, we may add a shrub layer to the front yard landscape. My client-brilliant. She makes me look good.

  7. Jeannine Eitel says

    Deborah you never cease to amaze me! I enjoy looking at all the spectacular designing you and your team do! It is all just brilliant!

  8. Ruth Wolery says

    This landscape is more than stunning. It is like out of a great dream book. You are such a great designer and are making a sought after name for yourself. I am so happy that I get to follow your posts.

  9. Deborah Silver says

    Dear Ruth, I handle each project with the idea to listen carefully to a client. all the best to you. regards, Deborah

  10. Deborah Silver says

    Dear Jeannine, we aim to please. A designing life is all I have ever wanted. I am fortunate to have clients who are equally interested in great design. I am pleased with the outcome of this project. all the best to you, Deborah

  11. The layers of this landscape are lovely. As the driveway gracefully winds toward the home the plantings reveal slowly. Move on and more beauty is revealed. Your selection and placement of trees and shrubs is genius. Serene and beautiful. I look forward to your post on the back yard and new shrub layer to the front. Clearly you and your client are on the same page when it comes to landscape design. Perfection. Susan

  12. It’s very exciting to see your posts- they are so perfect and look so fitting for the spaces you design for! Looks like a slightly frosty ground- do you plant most months?
    Great job!

  13. Deborah Silver says

    Dear Mary, last year the fall was so mild we were able to work outdoors in to January. Other years,the ground can freeze solid right after Thanksgiving. There most definitely was frost on the ground the morning I took thee pictures. best, Deborah

  14. Deborah Silver says

    Dear Susan, a driveway is not just a means to get from one place to another. This drive is is such a strong element that it seemed like a good idea to design around it. best, Deborah

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