Lush, English-style gardens provide all-season color on what was once an empty field.
A pergola adorned with pink clematis offers a spot for dining al fresco.
Faith Nevins Hawks trains a horse amid a sweeping expanse of lawn.
The pool is flanked by grassy areas, with bold purple strokes of plum and Japanese maple trees.
Rows of boxwood provide structure to  a garden that abuts the pergola.
On one end of the house, a dining porch and sleeping deck are open to spectacular views.
A gravel path wends from the house to a set of brick steps leading to the pool.

English Garden

Architect Faith Nevins Hawks tames a sweeping estate in Maryland Horse Country

When architect Faith Nevins Hawks and her husband, John Hawks, couldn’t find a country house to restore, they decided to build one from scratch. The couple purchased a 79-acre property in Monkton, Maryland, that encompassed a field bordered by woods, then Nevins Hawks set about designing a bucolic country estate complete with a Federal-style home, guesthouse, barn and English-style gardens. It would be the first private residence designed by the architect, whose award-winning projects include the Sailwinds Visitor Center in Cambridge, Maryland. 

As she designed the house, Hawks studied local farmhouses and the Federal architecture of the 1800s. It was a priority for the residence to blend seamlessly into its country setting. She then turned to the work of iconic British gardener Gertrude Jekyll, as well as the gardens of England’s Sissinghurst Castle, for landscape inspiration. 

“I love the way they structured plants, with elements you can see in the winter as well,” Nevins Hawks says of the English garden style. Today, views from the home’s two-level porch reveal a tapestry of perennials and shrubs designed for all-season show. Beyond a tidy row of boxwood, the garden bursts with shrubs, roses, peonies, nepeta and allium. Clusters of deep purple and maroon from plum, sand cherry and Japanese maple trees accent the soft palette. 

A brick retaining wall by the pool adds architectural interest and alleviates drainage issues in the sloping lot. The bluestone pool deck, accented by plum trees, provides space for entertaining.

Gravel paths, loved by the Hawkses’ grandchildren, lead visitors from the house through the gardens to the barn and pool. “I love separate buildings that are connected…whether by a garden or by spaces that become special between buildings,” Nevins Hawks says. 

Connecting the guesthouse to the main house is a lawn that serves as a badminton court and has hosted five weddings. Nevins Hawks, who has developed a passion for riding, has also created an area for training horses.

To one side of the pool, a wooden pergola with a stone floor gives relief from the sun while providing a welcoming, airy place for family meals. Sweet autumn clematis winds over the roof, providing fragrance in spring and summer.

Karen Watkins is a Bethesda, Maryland, freelance writer. Photographer Roger Foley is based in Arlington, Virginia.