As January 5 approaches, Downton Abbey fans on this side of the pond are eagerly awaiting a US broadcast of the British drama's fourth season. We're dusting off our tea sets and revisiting questions we were left with at last season's close. Of course, readers of this magazine may have additional questions: How high will the trellised roses have climbed? What flowers will fill the garden's herbaceous borders? Will we see any new topiary or espalier designs? The gardens are beautiful, and they are a enthralling backdrop to the drama & romance.
Esteemed landscape architect Laurie Olin, whose studio creates outdoor spaces throughout the world, has done some of his finest work in his home base of Philadelphia. His latest at-home project is the garden at the “new” Barnes Foundation, an art and horticulture institution that was recently moved from its original property in Merion, PA to its current site in downtown Philadelphia. I wondered: Would it be a compact version of the twelve-acre arboretum at the original property, or its own fresh expression of urban landscaping.
When the American industrial designer Russel Wright and his wife, Mary, purchased 75 acres of sloping land high above the Hudson River in Garrison, New York, in 1942, they knew little, if anything, about gardening or horticulture. But over the next 30-some years, Wright transformed the area, damaged from a century of logging and quarrying, into one of the most extraordinary examples of landscape design of all time. “Wright’s greatest achievement was the landscape,” says Jean-Paul Maitinsky, the site’s executive director since 2011.
Context is the crux of landscape architecture these days—a land’s history and its natural inheritance hold sway over decisions about siting, materials, and, of course, what to plant. Thomas Woltz and his partners at Nelson Byrd Woltz, which has offices in Charlottesville, Virginia, and New York City, have sought to embrace that sensibility. Principles of conservation and restoration are a part of nearly every Woltz project, and scientists regularly weigh in on his proposals.
We here at Garden Design have an enduring fascination with Dawnridge, the legendary Beverly Hills, California, home of Tony Duquette (1914-1999), one of the 20th century’s most prolific and influential designers. We asked contributing editor Paul O’Donnell to talk to its present owner, Hutton Wilkinson, longtime business partner and friend of Duquette. Wilkinson not only preserved the house and garden but managed to transform the estate into an ever-evolving laboratory of ideas.