– by Barry Mathias –
Duane Ensing, the owner and Creative Director of Landscape Solutions, has nearly 20 years of experience. With a degree in Fine Arts, a love of architecture and an intimate knowledge of plants and garden materials, he was an obvious choice for Marcella, who wanted to create in her one-acre grounds a low maintenance garden that would enhance the house.
“I first saw the plans for the new building while the original was still in existence,” Duane says. He took into account the structure of the proposed 5,000-square-foot house, with its intricate metal roof, fine stonework and the change in elevation from the road to the low bank waterfront.
Landscape Solutions can take responsibility for all aspects of a project; in this case, Duane designed the outside features and worked with Marcella’s building contractor who did the work. Duane’s ideas resulted in the spacious entry to the property, with low cedar hedges, manicured grass areas and a wide tiled courtyard effect for multiple parking, with the tennis court to the far left.
Leading to the front door is a long glass portico with wood pillars supported by stone clad bases, giving a majestic effect that complements the entry to the main hall. Aromatic bushes line the raised stone beds on either side. Duane refers to them as “Himalayan Sweet Box.”
He explains that the aim of the garden, with its contained beds marked by stone and gravel paths, is to create a looseness in the pattern. “I use similar plant choices and ground cover to achieve a sense of unity,” he says. “The aim is for people to feel ‘this is a great place to enjoy,’ without necessarily knowing why.” The garden has no fences, so a deer-proof planting plan was essential.
Originally, there was a 10-foot difference in elevation from the front of the house dropping down to the lawn at the back, and Marcella wanted to avoid steps. This was achieved by the use of wide patios that sweep around the back and sides of the house, and the transfer of yards of soil to raise the lawn five feet before it leads down to the water; it also covered the new septic system. Around the edge of the grass, leading to the dock, tumbled Roman pavers have been used to form a natural path.
There is a sense of oneness in the overall plan, and Duane says: “I have enjoyed working with Marcella to create an open and well-designed garden that has a feeling of maturity and relaxed order.”