Beautiful gardens are a border-blurring tapestry of strategic design, strong silhouettes, and thoughtful palettes. They elevate the architecture of a home as much as they enhance the lifestyle of its residents.
“When well executed, a fine house rests seamlessly within its setting,” says David Ashmore of Ireland Sotheby’s International Realty.
Professional landscaping services in the U.S. alone is a multibillion-dollar industry. From backyards to balconies, and from classic gardens to modern vertical ones, these spaces allow homeowners to outwardly personalize their surroundings.
According to the 2018 Remodeling Impact Report from the National Association of Realtors, landscape enhancements and upgrades rank high on the “joy score” of homeownership.
That joy is universal—English, French, Italian, Persian, Japanese gardens, there’s hardly a region or culture that doesn’t have an idealized interpretation of nature.
In the Irish village of Grangecon, about 30 miles south of Dublin, a historic Tudor residence and equestrian farm is set among 256 acres of rolling hills and ancient trees. Flowering gardens, hidden green pathways, and classic hedgerows create a magnificent rural retreat, and Ashmore says they add a “majestic provenance and history” to the estate, the effect of which is “magical.”
Just as there are trends in architecture, landscape design is also influenced by other cultural changes. Modern gardens are more inviting and involving, with a focus on the way form and function play into the outdoor experience.
“Creating distinct green ‘rooms’ allows homeowners to travel through their gardens,” says David Bennett, landscape architect and founder of Bennett Design & Landscape in Atlanta. “One area might serve as a quiet sanctuary for relaxation, while another is for entertaining.”
Current trends call for whimsically colored and intricately patterned plants. Some designs embrace a sculptural approach, complemented with ornamental grasses for texture and movement. Traditionalists love the time-honored aesthetic of formal gardens with their balance, symmetry, and strong architectural composition. Cottage gardens are classic in a more informal way, with bursts of color within an intentionally haphazard look.
Gardens not only paint a picture, they form a narrative— “an intrepid story often told by the adaptations and additions by various owners over time,” Ashmore says.
Iyna Bort Caruso is a New York-based journalist.
Pebble Beach, California
“Everything vibrates in harmony,” says designer Juan Pablo Molyneux of this majestic Spanish Colonial-style villa perched on a bluff overlooking the Pacific in Pebble Beach. Molyneux’s renovation has transformed the 1920s-built home into a masterpiece, with a grand salon and dining room, an ocean-view library and six bedrooms, all displaying gracious proportions and one-of-a-kind decorative details. Tall shade trees, emerald grass, and meandering pathways contribute to the idyllic feel of the courtyard gardens, where archways are accented by hand-painted tilework by Atelier Prométhée.