In a historic neighborhood just southwest of Boston, the grounds of a Mediterranean-style estate had much to recommend them. A sweeping lawn, mature specimen trees, a quiet reflecting pool, and a quaint pond all enhanced the stately atmosphere of the early 20th-century home. But the landscape had none of the transitional areas prized by modern families: no zones for outdoor living, entertaining or recreation.
Working closely with architect Claudia Noury-Ello, owner and interior designer Abby Yozell and her husband, John, engaged landscape architect Richard Burck Associates, Inc. and the landscape construction team of Robert Hanss, Inc., to help them devise a plan to update the historic estate. Their vision was two-fold: enhance the feel of old-world grandeur and relaxed elegance that the grounds already possessed, while also creating a timeless landscape fit for modern living.
Bob Hanss, whose team today is responsible for maintaining the landscape, noted: “This was a grand, and very old garden…with great older plantings and so much unique character. Respecting the history that was there was important. It was a chance to revive an older, historic estate for needs of the 21st century.”
Photography by Justine Hand.
One of the first elements that the design team added was a grand pool which runs the length of the elegant lawn. Intentionally minimal, it provides a focal point, leading the eye toward the house from one end, or toward the large pines when viewed from the opposite end.
Hanss noted that, though it had much potential, the landscape of the estate was “wildly overgrown,” requiring the removal of invasive plants and the rejuvenation of many old specimen trees. New plantings were restrained and restricted in palette, allowing the architecture of the landscape to take center stage.
To provide more outdoor living space and create a softer transition between the house and garden, the team developed a series of pea stone terraces along the back of the house. The lower patio accommodates a generous outdoor dining area. The upper terrace features two seating areas on either side of the central entrance. Each is framed by low walls constructed of older stone that add texture and enhance the old-world feel.
Pockets along the edges of the stone terrace provide spaces for plantings, which are deliberately informal and loose. Vines are encouraged to spread, yews are minimally clipped, and plants are left to self-seed, to soften the hardscaping. Adding to the overall romance of the terrace, a trellis of rather fecund wisteria and grape vines also provides ample shade.
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