It is a pleasure to find design that displays extraordinary talent, yet seems to hold enthusiasm in abeyance long enough to leave room for a decent game of croquet.
Aside from winning, the better reward in this landscape is among gathered potted plants with a table reminiscent of Stonehenge (a magical place, if ever there was) in an enchanting nook that becomes a haven. After swinging the mallet a few times too many on a hot day, a fountain trills a happy cadence, which is utterly refreshing during a much needed time out from the game.
What a great collection of elements – evidence of thoughtful imagination at work—to inspire and reinvigorate creative juices that had slowed down to a trickle.
Always a bit of competition with ourselves, isn’t there? Seeing if we can persuade a difficult plant to grow under impossible conditions—finding a rare species to crown the highest elevation on the property—or designing in controlled growth so as not to allow distortion of the vignette carefully designed to please a meticulous client.
Finding the perfect client, one who admires a designer’s imagination and allows the free-flow of ideas to create an original, is rare. When it happens, cause for celebration erupts and it’s the Get-Out-Of-Jail Card that turns many a designer into a raving maniac whose imagination darts about with all this freedom. It’s lovely and to be cherished, remembering every moment when the client just nods and says, “Yes. Keep going,” and the design is approved without exception.
A Carte Blanc Client Owns a Victorian
She needs a plan. No direction. Just moved in and wants a plan. Well then, a theme to start—a theme that reckons the house. It should be easy. The house is over 100 years old and the client has only made one request: “Informal.” Well, that totally negates a Victorian reference. Allowing thoughts to range far and wide to find an idea—”why not design with fey?” pops up on the mental teleprompter. Magic, so popular a subject at the turn of the nineteenth century—when this house was born—becomes fey design. We will embrace the house with a spell.
Working It Out
No restricting organization, no parterres, but plants and flowers broadcast as though fairies had blown through, leaving drifts of blossoms in their wake, along the path to the front door. Using as many drought-resistant species as possible will conserve water.
Introducing the back of the house, an arbor forms an enchanted circle in the woods (to attract the local elfin, was explained), with places to sit, made of natural stone, looking as though they’d always been there. Wisteria vines climb and sway like diaphanous curtains in the breeze, to enclose the intimate hideaway, creating a sanctuary that beckons—an invitation to pause—for contemplation, reading or just enjoying the day. How can one do without such a space?
So now we know that fey works beautifully with a home that harks back to an era that took magic seriously. A sumptuous setting that captures a mystical moment—when stepping outside means a treat for the senses with lush softness, a myriad of colors and the potpourri of a thousand blooms. Rampant abandon and not at all what a Victorian would expect. Delicious.