Much of what keeps a community, or a landscape workable is about transport. These vegetables need to get to market before they go bad. Those M and M peanuts-bags of this candy get shipped all over the country. You and I need to get to work; we require transportation from one place to another. A drivecourt can be a very utilitarian landscape feature-but that does not mean it needs to be an endless expanse of hard surface like the parking lot of a gorcery store. A drivecourt facilitates transport-but it can have its own 15mph zones. This drivecourt-I designed and built a water feature with three jets-as big as an SUV. This takes one attention away from the floor and provides some interest at eye level. The cistern is placed in the drivecourt such that it directs both physical and visual traffic. Only days away from having the water lines hooked up, the soil brought up to grade, a boxwood skirt and flowers to finish, I only hope the music of the water running will transport them, the moment they get home.
Establishing some structure in a garden has much to do with traffic. How will you get from one place to another. This river front property is owned by clients with older parents and family. A motorized cart provides transportation from the front of the house to the water. Gravel walks large enough to accomodate that vehicle were essential to everyone being able to enjoy the outdoors.
A fenced vegetable garden with raised beds was high on the list of their requests. They entertain family and friends, and cook-passionately. The ability to grow their own summer vegetables and fruits was important. Much of their family life and tradition revolves around the exchange and community of the dinner table. This is an old world attitude that I like and respect. The south side of this new addition had the best sun. The design issue-how to combine a working vegetable garden, a means by which materials, people and tools could be transported in a beautiful way. I designed this garden immediately adjacent to a covered porch, home to seating, and an outdoor kitchen. The best part of designing is that occasion when you have a client keenly interested in that process. The deisgn of this garden gate, an exact replica of my client’s grandfather’s vegetable garden gate in Italy. I will say this gate is my most favorite detail in the entire landscape.
Six raised beds provide lots of space to grow. I have yet to meet a passionate grower of food who thought they had plenty of space to cultivate. The curved end boxes provide visual relief from the expected rectangular boxes one usually sees. A series of wood tables that have been in the family a long time can be set up for a dinner party-in the garden. I heard a party last weekend resulted in an impromptu bocce game. Though by no means does this space approach a regulation court, it has the advantage of not looking like a regulation court. Company on the porch and in the garden-a pleasure. The center space is large enough to permit the acrt to pass through, without looking like a road.
My clients have to deal with a considerable deer population. When they are not entertaining, portable screens sheild the garden from the porch. Lacking this, deer would use the porch as their roadway to the garden. Hardware cloth set below garde and up to the bottom of the Belgian fencing keeps out smaller intruders.
Curving a section of 4″ by 6″ lumber is no mean feat. Each of the bottom four boards have 90 parallel cuts perpendicular to their length, side by side. The cuts-each the width of the saw blades, is called a kerf. The saw removes small parallel slices of wood from the board. After soaking the boards overnight, Steve, my landscape superintendent, was able to bend their 4 foot sections into place. 360 cuts all together. The top section, comprised of a series of smaller chunks of wood perfectly fitted together to form the curve-made my Steve’s brother-a carpenter, cabinetmaker, and shop teacher. This painstakingly contructed detail makes a world of visual difference to the end result.
There are times when lawn is suffient to permit traffic, and gathering. traffic The firebowl, set on the opposite side of the porch from the vegetable garden, is set at seat height so guests can congregate without the need for additonal seating. All the these spaces in proximity and easily accessible to one another makes entertaining easy. There are places to be, and places to move to.
The large lawn plane which spans both the old property and the new one, is finally finished; we have planted the boxwood buttons. A large party which is planned for late June-tables will be set over top of the boxwood-what fun. This very long rectagular space can easily accomodate a tent if need be-with a dressy floor already in place. The view from the upstairs balcony is lovely.
The decomposed granite walk traverses the entire back of the property. Its strong shape helps to knit the old house and propert yto the addition and new property. There is a strong sense that every architectural and landscape element has always been there. There is no evidence of spaces being stitched together.
This was a long and large project; I am on the verge of finishing. I think my clients are pleased to have spaces that will be completed by friends, family, dinners, bocce-and growing tomatoes. I like landscapes that invite people to partake of them.