How do you provide an elegant “green” setting for a stately Gothic gray-stone mansion without turning the whole thing completely stuffy? Simple: you choose boxwoods, boxwoods, and more boxwoods, punctuated with exuberant flowering shrubs and other cleverly “light” details, as in this arrangement by Howard Design Studio Landscape Architecture. Potted plants at the doors, and a rambling climber around the doorway, disarm even the imposing façade. Complementing it, on the other hand, is an extended set of carefully manicured shrubs in geometric shapes that both highlight the sturdy architecture and draw the eye in a long, leisurely path. Notice the “echo” of a low stone wall in the even lower boxwood hedge: even their squared corners match! So, yes, this is a formal garden — but it’s a formal garden with humor and soul.
Amid the sculptured hedges that delineate garden areas, you have rhododendron and other softer, more rounded lines that add subtle blushes of pink and white even as they mellow the “edges” of the garden’s formal layout. And what’s friendlier or more relaxing than fountains and pools? This garden has several of them: stone water features that cascade into tiny oases, surrounded by tall white lilies and up-lighted for a romantic touch. It also boasts larger, round “ponds” with handy garden benches nearby, in a bright sky blue. Interesting counterpoint happens with the contrast of a veritable explosion of hydrangeas behind a bench…versus a neat little “outdoor room divider” on the other side. Is it a formal garden, or a relaxing escape? The answer is “yes” to both, in this elegant yet easygoing space from Howard.