As summer is here, we are beginning to live outdoors.
What do you think about first when designing an outdoor space?
The house floor plan will be an essential starting point to make the outdoor rooms flow – to create an overall design that holds you in a strong way, just as the walls and the layout of the interior do. Circulation and the furnishing of the outdoors is crucial to get right.
It seems that downtown living has become popular in Greenwich, so how do you recreate that lush natural feeling in a small space?
It’s important to remember that you do not have to always do perimeter plantings. You can mix up your plantings and bring some to the center of the terrace or patio. Creating outdoor rooms is the goal and can often be as simple as grouping planters around dining furniture or living furniture.
Be sure to have a beautiful view that is framed by any windows that look out on the garden. It is nice to see the surrounding areas through waving plumes of ornamental grasses – these can be planted right under the window and create the foreground of your garden scene.
And as we are near the Long Island sound, what type of landscapes do you like to create for waterfront property?
Plants with smaller leaves are ideal – they will not shred as easily in a windstorm or dehydrate as quickly as large leaves.. For taller evergreens, I like to use Juniperus robusta. This plant takes an enormous amount of weather abuse. They have strong structural shape and are a beautiful deep dark green.
Not surprisingly, plants that do well along the seashore and exposed areas with inclement weather will all do well on a rooftop or other small, exposed terrace. Ornamental grasses, Russian sage, butterfly bushes and even roses will take to a small space and can thrive on rooftops, as well as other forms of evergreen Juniper and spireas. As a matter of fact, spirea, a lovely small flowering shrub with varieties that come in a full range of pink and white flowers, will stay small in a nicely fed and protected garden bed – but put them up forty stories on the edge of a rooftop and you’ll see what they can really do.
Do you have any favorite gardens, locally?
A personal favorite of mine is Wave Hill in the Bronx. I was always drawn to the natural world, although I grew up in New York City, and have always thought of the public gardens there as a perfect refuge. To this day my favorite landscapes are along the Hudson River and I love the upland forest Hudson River Valley archetype and the culture and history of the land surrounding the Palisades. Wave Hill has 28 acres of expertly maintained gardens containing fresh and innovative plantings, all overlooking the Hudson River and Palisades. Every season the plant beds and planters are expertly refreshed and I make sure to schedule regular offsite field trips with my
entire design studio for inspiration and education. We end every trip to the gardens with a renewed enthusiasm and appreciation for the natural world and understanding of the importance of maintaining our cultural landscapes. Can there be anything better than a Western view of the Hudson River, overlooking the Palisades into a gorgeous sunset?
How important is scent to an outdoor space?
That is a very subjective question, and I find the answer varies greatly from client to client. Luckily there is an endless palette of plant varieties to choose from to cater to personal taste. It is a prime magnet for me – and always will bring back memories of other gardens and seasons. I consider it carefully when planning a garden.
What’s your favorite spot in town to relax?
Janice Parker of Janice Parker Landscape Architects
Photography by Landino Photo