Landscape architect David Thorne won a 2015 gold award for this 10 acre reclamation project in Lafayette, CA. The goal was to restore and repopulate the landscape with oaks and native grasses and provide the clients with a sustainable retreat, complete with pool, entertaining areas and an edible garden.
Designed with sustainability in mind, water is routed to percolate back into the soil, and water from the roof is also collected and recirculated. Native plantings are installed right up to the house, and live oaks -existing and new ones -- survive without much water. Other native plants were selected to attract wildlife or provide habitat for birds and pollinating insects. The design blurs the boundaries between the house and surrounding hillside, so there is little distinction between the natural and the built environment.
Another gold award went to designer Susan Cohan for the planting design at Lee Hill Farm in New Vernon, NJ.
The formal landscape at the 15 acre historic property (General Lafayette's winter headquarters during the Revolution) had fallen into disrepair, so Cohan restored the stonework, walkways and pond and added a steel arbor to support climbing roses. Planting plans from the 1940s dictated the color palette of deep blues and pinks with yellow and white seasonal accents.
Low-maintenance perennials form the core of the planting plan: peonies, bearded iris, Dianthus gratianopolitanus, Salvia nemerosa and Alchemilla mollis among them. A 100-year-old American elm creates shade on the terrace beneath it, and four Styrax japonica provide spring bloom.