©istockphoto.com / Arita Cimermane
“The seasons in the landscape, much like the seasons of one’s life, are to be embraced, appreciated and weathered.” — Robin Kramer
When it comes to the seasons, an adaptable landscape is always a challenge. In northern climates, the focus is too often on the fleeting warmer months where blossoms are abundant and beautiful. Into late fall, the vibrant leaves have fallen and a bare winter — and landscape — sets in. In warmer areas, the challenge is less about the seasons and more about weather extremes such as droughts or rain.
We talked to luxury landscape designers about how they work through the challenges of the changing seasons and find beauty in the landscape all year long.
A Strong Framework
“I consider structure to be the most critical component in any garden. A successful garden design will look good in any season if the bones of the garden are well designed,” says New York City-based Landscape Designer Robin Kramer. “Paths, walls, edging, hedges, pergolas and water features are the permanent features that make a garden strong and confident. The flowering plant material is the dressing of the landscape and can easily be modified based on the desires of the gardener.”
“Ideally, a landscape is something that transitions throughout the year and it has its glory days throughout every season,” says Vermont-based Landscape Designer Ashley J. Robinson. “They are rarely looking for a one-shot wonder with a full-on explosion of bloom in the spring.”
Robinson seeks out materials such as wood, metal or other elements that are not herbaceous in order to craft a composition that is visually intriguing despite the blooms, or lack of blooms. “Natural stone, boulders, outcropping in the garden. A well-intentioned feature is important for a winter garden.”
Similarly, Teresa Watkins, a Master Gardener and specialized horticulturist for over 20 years in Florida, relies on hardscape and garden art to design spaces that truly fit a client’s personality, while at the same time ensuring the health and sustainability of the landscape. “I have an ongoing two-year project designing a formal estate landscape with a rose garden with walls, a faux stone bridge, butterfly garden, water features, orchard, meandering pathways and poolscaping.”
An architectural framework is key to high-end landscape, and Pennsylvania-based Landscape Designer Donald Pell is an expert at finding a balance of this within a range of vernaculars — from English-style to modern. “Our work always includes thoughtfully designed architectural spaces. These can be simple and they can be very substantial,” he says. “Right now, I am building a very large promenade through a woodland
A beautiful wild garden crafted by Vermont Landscape Designer Ashley J. Robinson. Photo courtesy of Ashley J. Robinson.
Donald Pell Gardens gave this 1700s Colonial Farmhouse garden an update with native and cosmopolitan plants used to evoke the regional landscape. Photo courtesy of Donald Pell.
that I would describe as very classical, and the plantings are very much impressionistic woodland. I specified hand-cut fieldstone curbing with paths that has a Pennsylvania Colonial feel, and I really like bond pattern paving details angled from the home, which tend to be very modernist.”
When it comes to warmer climates, such as those of the Sun Belt, structure has less to do with looking good throughout bare seasons, but more to do with a landscape that can sustain year-round outdoor living. “For contemporary homes in Southern California, the indoors rolls right outside,” says landscape architect Scott Zucker. “You’ve got enormous sliding doors with pocket entry, kitchen and family rooms that pour right out onto the terrace.” In designing these homes, materials that can withstand the outdoors, but also look just as beautiful indoors is the challenge. A huge trend, Zucker points out, is utilizing porcelain or ceramic pavers that not only keep a stunning transitional look, but also require very little maintenance.
Above, an outdoor portico crafted from stone at a Southern California residence designed by Scott Zucker of Zucker Design Associates, Inc. Below, an arbor for a Laguna Beach residence offers an eye-catching landscaping feature.
Top photo courtesy of Jeri Koegal. Bottom photo courtesy of Scott Zucker.
The Four Seasons
“The seasons themselves aren’t a challenge, but an exciting opportunity,” says Pell. “Even thinking about texture and emotion of the dead tissue of herbaceous plants can be an opportunity to compose something beautiful. It’s the same as working anywhere in the world — there are opportunities and constraints.”
While spring and summer’s spotlight is on the flower, that shifts completely when fall arrives. “I never focus on just the flower,” advises Pell. “They are just too ephemeral. They are, of course, an important component, but the structures of the plantings at their worst is where I start. I am looking for plants that look very beautiful in a given composition, and I want the composition to be able to hold up in extremes of weather.”
“Designing through the seasons takes careful planning and a thorough understanding horticulturally on the attributes of trees and plants,” says Kramer. “Floral succession bloom is created by selecting perennials that will create a parade of flowers from spring through to the first frost. This is supported by spring bulbs and flowering trees.”
“In fall, we plant thousands of spring bulbs. It is a late task in season, but such an important one,” continues Kramer. “In the spring, I want the ground to be punctured with green shoots pushing their way forward, poising for their bloom. After months of frigid temperatures and inches, even feet, of snow, New England begins to warm. Those rather odd-looking bulbs we planted are now a sure sign of spring and a reminder that we too, have survived another winter.”
“There’s a lot to be said for winter in the garden,” says Robinson. “It requires you to not do a lot of cut back or maintenance. Generally speaking, you should wait out the things you don’t want there, such as foliage debris and leaf litter — these things are good for increasing organic matter in the soil. You shouldn’t scrape landscape bare — it’s all about layering and allowing that to happen naturally.”
While places with warmer climates, such as Southern California or Florida, don’t have the challenges of designing through autumn and winter, they do have seasons of their own: dry season, fire season, and wet season.
“The water use in California really drives what we can and can’t do,” says Zucker, who mentions WELO (Modern Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance) and fire departments regulations, as well as restrictions on paving and the amount of non-permeable landscape a property is allowed to have. “One of the trends that is big in California these days — necessitated by lack of water — is drought-tolerant plants.” These include plants such as succulents or agaves that also offer stunning structural plant material that really create a powerful look for a landscape.
“When I’m working on my designs, I take into account not necessarily annuals or perennials, but the permanent flowers that clients especially desire so that at any time of the year it will be blooming,” says Zucker. “I tend to group plant material together to give a bigger impact. Instead of giving too many species, I pare it down so that aesthetically, from the front yard to the backyard, the whole landscape ties together.”
While Zucker is looking for colorful plantings that can withstand the lack of water, places like Florida experience the opposite — with a wet season that lasts at least half of the year. “Florida winter season can be dramatic. We can go from 85 degrees one day to 28 degrees the next, which is not enough time for tropical plants to acclimate to cooler temperatures,” says Watkins. “The other issues are temperatures averaging 85 degrees for six to seven months out of the year, where our plants can be growing all year, and over 50 inches of rain.”
It’s in these areas where irrigation designers are needed most fevertly along with specialized consideration of the amount of sunlight, soil moisture, soil pH — all extremes associated with the tropics. Without seasonal change, there is also a shortage of compost, plant material and nutrients, which is easily received each fall with the turning of the seasons in other parts of the country.
“I often say, all of life’s lessons are learned in the garden,” says Kramer. “Each season delivers reminders and rituals. It is the moments on which lives are built and cherished.”
Depending on the place you call home, the changing seasons may bring cooler weather, warmer fashion, and the beginning of holiday festivities.
If you’re looking to upgrade your closet, find a gift, or treat yourself, here are a few luxurious must-haves for the upcoming months of fall foliage, breezy temperatures, and autumn decor.
Must-Have Sustainable Coffee Mugs
Sustainable is a concept that is here to stay. The increasing awareness about single-use plastic and our threatened environment has sparked an interest in sustainable everything. If you’re switching from iced coffee to steaming tea and hot cocoa, try a ceramic travel mug that will eliminate single-use cups. The ceramic mugs are stylish and functional.
A Wraparound Shawl/Pashmina
These travel wraps are perfect for breezy mornings that require a few extra layers. Muted tones and woven from fine merino wool, these scarves can add a touch of style to your outfit. Later in the day if the chill is gone, the items are lightweight and can easily be stowed away in your bag or in your desk.
A Rainy Day Necessity
A functional and fun umbrella is perfect for unexpected weather. Whether you’re running errands or headed to a business meeting, there’s nothing worse than being caught in the rain. Don’t let unpredictable weather ruin your day or your style. Find a compact umbrella that fits into your style. Nothing brightens up a rainy afternoon like an umbrella that perfectly suits your personality.
Art and Greenery
Shorter days, cooler nights and less time to spend outdoors can leave some days feeling rather dull. Brighten up your space with a touch of greenery, such as a new plant or a bouquet of fresh-cut flowers. A low maintenance option would be a cheerful piece of art that brings life into rooms that can feel drab in the upcoming months.
The busy summer season is coming to a close, but here are a few unforgettable destinations around the world that should be shared! These curated experiences are opportunities to immerse yourself in new cultures, taste new foods, appreciate art, design, history and enjoy time for yourself to rejuvenate.
Photo courtesy of São Lourenço do Barrocal
Wild Terrains — Portugal
As the only travel company leading women-only group trips that partner exclusively with local, female-owned businesses, Wild Terrains has expanded and launched their second destination – Portugal. This new eight-day/seven-night journey takes women travelers to Lisbon, Alentejo, and Porto, where the dynamic history, delicious food, and breathtaking landscapes are just the beginning. Guests stay at stylish women-owned hotels like The Lisboans in Lisbon and Duas Portas Townhouse in Porto. Experience a Lisbon street art tour designed by Vanessa Teodoro, a South African street artist. Enjoy a tasting menu dinner at women-owned Prado with wine pairings by Portugal’s top female winemakers, and so much more!
Foraging with Portuguese mixologist Constança Cordeiro, private mixology lessons, biking through the countryside of Alentejo Visit. Travelers will learn more about Portuguese food history with cooking classes and eating your way through Porto with a food crawl. Another option is to take a day trip to Douro Valley to meet some female winemakers in the region, and so much more!
Photo courtesy of Prado Restaurant Photo courtesy of The Lisboans
Photo courtesy of Wild Terrains
On Foot Holidays — Catalonia
The hills of Catalonia are perfect for a fall getaway, with the grape harvest in full swing in September. On Foot Holidays’ self-guided hiking vacation will take you through the terraced vineyards of the famed Priorat winemaking region to the town of Porrera, where there are, of course, plenty of opportunities to sample the local wines in celebration of completing your walk. Starting at Montsant, only an hour from Barcelona, the route through quiet hills with magnificent vistas also passes two fine abbeys – Poblet and Escaladei – the former thriving and active, the latter now being restored as an archaeological site of major significance.
Did you know?
All of On Foot Holidays’ 32 routes throughout Europe are designed by a local – someone who lives near every route and is responsible for the upkeep of the route, hotel liaison and providing telephone support for all walkers during their trip. For this route, the locals recommend a stay in Barcelona at the end (or start) at one of On Foot Holidays’ hand-picked hotels or B&Bs.
Photos courtesy of On Foot Holidays
Les Ilets de la Plage – Saint Barth
The sixth edition of the Saint Barth Gourmet Festival takes place November 6-10, 2019 on the island of Saint Bathélemy. Now considered a major culinary event, the Festival’s cast of participating chefs is once again star-studded and comprises iconic figures of haute French cuisine. The Saint Barth Gourmet Festival is counted as one of the major events in the world of culinary excellence and one of the best gourmet festivals on an international scale.
The intimate, family-owned beach resort offers 12 private villas with direct access to the white sand beach and azure sea. Secluded yet central, Les Ilets has been a well-kept secret for years, combining the privacy and serenity of a villa with a hotel concierge service at an affordable price.
Photo courtesy of Pierre Carreau
Photo courtesy of Gerald Tessier
Ignacia Guest House — Mexico City
Stay in the beloved Colonia Roma neighborhood at Ignacia Guest House, a trendy eco-friendly bed and breakfast. Featuring just five unique suites, the hotel’s namesake is Ignacia, the housekeeper who took care of this 1913 colonial mansion for more than 70 years. In celebration of Dia de los Muertos, the chef will bake the traditional holiday bread for breakfast that week – Pan de Muertos or “bread of the dead,” a slightly sweet, brioche-like bread covered with orange blossom water and anise seeds.
Foodies will love Eat Like a Local Mexico City’s special Dia de los Muertos food tour where founder Rocio Vazquez Landeta shares her personal approach to the celebration. Start the day with coffee, sweet bread, and street tacos with a visit to the flower market to enjoy delicious food while shopping for candy skulls, flowers, candles, colorful papers, and more.
Photo courtesy of Jaime Navarro
The Liming — Bequia
To Caribbean locals, liming means ‘the art of doing nothing.’ At The Liming Bequia, this leisurely way of passing the time comes with added luxury. Set on the tiny island of Bequia, this boutique hideaway is refreshingly off the beaten track compared to larger islands. With lush gardens, a private marina and views towards Canouan and Mayreau, The Liming instantly rewards you for going that bit further.
Did you know?
Reopening after the off-season on November 9th, 2019, The Liming Bequia recently announced a special offer for travelers –
“stay for 7 nights, pay only for 5” – so guests can enjoy liming for even longer.
Photos courtesy of The Liming, Bequia
For similar content try the following articles; Expert Q&A: Combining Luxury Travel with Curated Wine Experiences, Traveling the Globe in Search of The New Art Deco, Experiential Travel, Docent-Led Destinations.
The start of a new season can lead to many new opportunities. For homeowners or interior designers it means the chance to reorganize and redecorate using new styles or regimens, one being Feng Shui.
Feng Shui is the ancient Chinese belief system with the idea that one’s living space can nourish positive energy. With the fall season right around the corner, there are a few simple ways one can take advantage of some of these concepts that can improve the atmosphere of the home.
As a material, metal represents intelligence and mental strength in Feng Shui. As an addition to the home, metal will attract positive energy while accentuating the fall season, including metal accents in items such as vases or wall decor which can enhance a space. Incorporating metallic paint colors like bronze, gray and gold can have the same effect.
A bowl of fruit in a kitchen symbolizes a home that will never be without food and encourage healthy eating. Place bright, red apples in a stylish bowl to add a seasonal, stylish touch. Scented candles fill any room with a fall aroma, such as the enticing smell of apple pie or the crisp fall air. These scents will calm you while the decorative candle complements a room.
Give the people entering your home a reason to take a moment to pause by hanging artwork on a wall. Place it in a foyer or front hall so guests take their time as they come in.
Removing the clutter in a home is another way to fix the harmony in any space. Opulent organization techniques, like renovating a closet, will refresh a room’s ambiance. While organizing a space, rid yourself of items or furniture that don’t add purpose to the area.
Shelving allows for an interesting focal point while allowing you to reorganize personal items. Larger shelves give more room to add decorations, books and storage.
Keep your outdoor space neat and remove tired-looking flowers or plants. Chrysanthemums, for example, bring in good luck and are often used in the practice of Feng Shui. They add balance to a person’s life and can balance out the look of a front yard with a pop of color. Flowers evoke feelings of beauty and grace. If gardening isn’t your thing, opt for artwork for either inside the home or in the yard.
Doormats are the best way to have some flair and attract the possibility of new opportunities. Get into the habit of putting out new ones every week and steer away from your typical “Welcome” Funky patterns and designs can improve any dreary front porch or walkway. New habits spark good energy during any new season.
Photo courtesy Lights4fun.
As the summer passes and transitions to fall, there are several ways you can incorporate fun, easy changes to your home style to showcase a sleek, sophisticated style that flows perfectly with the season. Rebecca Snowden, Interior Style Advisor at Furniture Choice Limited, shares three key décor tips to style a cozy home for Autumn 2019.
Jewel Tones and Inviting Textures
This autumn, let rich jewel tones like deep mauve, sapphire blue and dust pink take center stage. “Embrace the sophistication of the season in all its moody glamour,” says Snowden.
A lush black velvet bed instantly adds elegance to a bedroom and sets a luxurious base to build upon. Layer deep, rich tones via opulent textures like velvet and faux fur to create a lavish, comfortable setting.
Light up the space with distinctive fixtures to enhance the overall ambiance. “Individual pendant bulbs give off a modern, almost industrial feel while sleek, standing lamps are practical and stylish,” Snowden notes. Display fresh flowers for a burst of life or dramatic floral artwork with contemporary charm as final touches.
Photo courtesy LUXXU Home.
Black and Yellow – A Perfect Pair
On a brighter note, pairing black and yellow results in a lighter, modern take on autumn décor. One part dark, one part festive, and altogether stylish. Choose a dark yellow like mustard, in homage to autumn’s signature leaves.
“This trendy color contrasts nicely with a sleek black leather sofa to produce an edgy and seasonal-appropriate palette,” says Snowden. Go bold with a mustard feature wall or start small with yellow cushions, rugs and planters.
With this style choice, Snowden also recommends keeping the rest of the room simple and opt for pieces with clean lines to prevent overwhelming the senses. Add warmth with a soothing accent color like forest green, achieved through incorporating dark green, leafy plants. These not only bring in life but also a sense of freshness, all while contributing to the overall style.
Photo courtesy DelightFULL.
In the spirit of transitioning into the season, get crafty and DIY some autumn-themed accessories. “Metallic accessories are a simple and effective way to add a pinch of glamour and light to any space,” Snowden advises.
Photos courtesy Lights4fun.
Though simple and based around functionality, bathrooms are incredible spaces to decorate and explore with the imagination. With the fall season approaching, luxury brand Maison Valentina offers unique design tips to showcase the most popular 2018 fall trends that redefine the bathroom.
Mix and Match
As one of the most private spaces in the home, the bath is meant to reflect personality. As a result, the space isn’t limited to just one style or concept. Designers encourage homeowners to have fun and mix together aspects from different trends to achieve the look that most reflects you. Pieces from Maison Valentina’s ATO Collection are perfect for this, showcasing metallic finishes and stone/gem accents that are consistent in the industry.
When it comes to decor, mirrors are a necessity in any room of the home, including the bath. Whether you are looking to makeover the entire room or just want to update your style, an excellent addition includes the use of round mirrors. These types of mirrors are iconic as they add new dimension to any space. A room’s composition is naturally made up of straight lines and right angles, which is what makes a round mirror’s silhouette a welcome addition above a boxy chest or a linear mantel. As always, the bigger the piece the greater the impact.
This fall, bathtubs come back stronger by being more unique, comfortable and offering more space for ultimate relaxation. The freestanding bathtub has remained a consistent trend for bath designers, as it is found in a multitude of shapes: square, oval, round, asymmetrical or rectangular. To maximize the “wow” effect, designers often install these tubs in the center of the room as statement pieces.
Specifically regarding metallics, brass is having its moment. Sleek designs and minimal detailing ensure the brass look is contemporary and not too vintage. Classic, golden, brass tones that are warm and subtle can elevate the space to both look chic and pair very well with a monochromatic color scheme.
All photos courtesy Maison Valentina.