Home & Design
Parking court welcomes visitors to the Shingle-style house, designed by Grina-Lavie Architects.
Parking court welcomes visitors to the Shingle-style house, designed by Grina-Lavie Architects.

A parking court welcomes visitors to the Shingle-style house, designed by Grina-Lavie Architects. A clipped hornbeam hedge and American boxwood lend structure to the lawn and entryway.

Waterfowl sculpture by John Dreyfuss
Waterfowl sculpture by John Dreyfuss

Surrounded by a bounty of flowers, a waterfowl sculpture by John Dreyfuss, commissioned by the homeowners, is poised for flight.

Bluestone walkway flanked by lush perennials including acanthus, lilies, coneflowers and nepeta.
Bluestone walkway flanked by lush perennials including acanthus, lilies, coneflowers and nepeta.

Western light filters through a stand of loblolly pines, accessed via a bluestone walkway flanked by lush perennials including acanthus, lilies, coneflowers and nepeta.

Pool house porch
Pool house porch

Beyond a large perennial border, the pool house porch caters to al fresco dining.

Path embellished with flowers, trees and ornamental shrubs leads to an adjacent columned portico.
Path embellished with flowers, trees and ornamental shrubs leads to an adjacent columned portico.

Windows of the home’s morning room reflect the sunrise; a path embellished with flowers, trees and ornamental shrubs leads to an adjacent columned portico.

Pair of Adirondack chairs overlooking the Miles Rives
Pair of Adirondack chairs overlooking the Miles Rives

A pair of Adirondack chairs occupies a serene spot overlooking the Miles Rives; existing loblolly pines stand as a buffer to the shoreline.

Miles River home with swimming pool and pool house
Miles River home with swimming pool and pool house

Against the backdrop of the Miles River, a swimming pool and pool house offer tranquility, relaxation and space for entertaining amidst stately loblolly pines and lush perennials.

Al Fresco Retreat

Landscape architect Richard Arentz reimagines fields of empty farmland near Easton, creating a versatile waterfront oasis

It is hard to fathom that this 25-acre waterfront property in Easton, replete with lush gardens, statuary, outbuildings, a pool and a tennis court, was once nothing but farmland. “It was all just soybean fields,” recollects landscape architect Richard Arentz, who answered the call of its suburban Maryland-based owners to transform four acres surrounding their vacation home on the undeveloped parcel into an al fresco retreat for both immediate and extended family to enjoy over weekends and holidays.

Besides expansive views of the picturesque Miles River, what excited Arentz most was “the calm energy of the site,” he observes. “You don’t really see any other houses from it, so it feels like you’re on the water by yourself. The location has a really calming effect.”

That effect starts at the sweeping driveway, which was designed to establish an immediate sense of place and a feeling of tranquility as visitors approach and encounter their first water views. “There was a lot of thought given to the entrance drive—the sense of arrival and letting people understand that they’re actually on a peninsula,” Arentz explains.

Once up the drive, the sprawling, Shingle-style residence comes into view, adorned with a columned pediment and fronted by a courtyard rimmed in clipped hornbeam hedges, American boxwood and expanses of bottlebrush buckeye. Looking out from the nearby columned pergola, the eye is arrested by a dramatic focal point: a striking sculpture of a goose in flight by Washington, DC, sculptor John Dreyfuss. Set atop a pedestal and surrounded by lush greenery, “it just feels of the place,” says Arentz. The sculpture also draws the eye to the water beyond.

A main feature of the property is the formal lawn facing south toward the river. It flows out from the expansive porch at the back of the house, where the owners love to sit with their guests and enjoy long views across the grass to the water, with the town of St. Michaels visible in the distance. This gathering spot is also a place for the family to play games on summer evenings, while the lawn is large enough to accommodate tents for weddings and other large-scale events.

Arentz worked to create a sense of flow on the property, ensuring easy access to all the activities the family enjoys, from swimming to boating to relaxing on the porch. Existing loblolly pines stretch high into the sky, encircling the landscape and providing a stabilizing buffer between the yard and the shoreline. Arentz’s team further anchored the site by planting a mixture of hollies and trees that offer shade.

The majestic loblollies are a beautiful backdrop to a wide border of perennial flowers bursting with color and texture. This garden overflows with vibrant blooms: lilies, coneflowers, nepeta, hyssop and baptisia are punctuated by tall spikes of acanthus and softened by both large and dwarf varieties of billowy limelight hydrangea. “The perennial border is really geared to the summer months of entertaining, which is high season for the owners,” Arentz notes.

The eastern part of the property lends itself to the family’s favorite water pastimes. There is a dock from which to launch boating, crabbing, sailing and fishing expeditions, with a cottage nearby that stores fishing equipment. And when they’re not out plying the river, the residents can take advantage of water a little closer to home in the form of an expansive swimming pool with a pool house beside it.

Complete with a kitchen, bathroom and changing rooms, the pool house was designed to reflect the look of the portico and pergola attached to the main residence. A deep covered area anchored by columns faces the pool; its overhang makes al fresco dining a breeze—it’s the perfect spot for a crab feast, perhaps. Umbrellas positioned on the wide bluestone pool surround offer shady perches with views of the river beyond the loblollies.

Throughout the property, Arentz devised opportunities to meander along bluestone paths and walkways, with scenic resting spots where the owners can pause to admire garden beds or enjoy refreshments. Among other destinations, the paths lead to a guest house and tennis court—popular hubs along the site’s eastern spine. Though there’s a lot of structure and order to the property, notes Arentz, “you don’t feel it as you move from one spot to the next. The landscape feels effortless.”

Landscape Architecture: Richard Arentz, ASLA, Arentz Landscape Architects, Washington, DC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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