Home & Design

Dried Limelight hydrangea blooms add texture near the home. Photo: David Burroughs

Antique stone windows that once graced an English church create a focal point near a reflecting pool in a Virginia garden. Evergreens provide lasting color. Photo: Emily Hood

A dusting of snow blankets a 16-acre estate on the West River. A pathway leads to the boathouse through swaths of grasses that frame the views.

OvS planted giant miscanthus and fountain grass.

On an Annapolis property, Campion Hruby leaves fall grasses untouched until early spring, when they are cut back to promote new growth. Photo: David Burroughs

Silver + Gold

Reveling in the desolate beauty of winter and fall

Though most homeowners focus their landscape plans on spring and summer, experts contend that taking a year-round approach delivers rich rewards even in the coldest winter months. 

Landscape architects Kevin Campion and Meredith Beach designed an Annapolis project with year-round allure overlooking Cadle Creek. A stone wall separates the property into a manicured side close to the house and a naturalistic side brimming with grasses that blends into adjacent marshland. “Grasses have fall interest, especially when mixed with fall-blooming perennials,” says Campion, who urges clients not to cut back grasses prematurely. “Make sure that 20- to 30-percent of plants you select bloom into fall. The final months of the year can be the best time to enjoy your garden.” Landscape Architecture: Campion Hruby Landscape Architects. Landscape Installation: Walnut Hill Landscape Company. Architecture: Hammond Wilson. Builder: Pyramid Builders. 

Landscape architect Bob Hruby designed an award-winning project overlooking Accotink Creek in Virginia. One goal was to devise new gardens that would appear to be centuries old. In one of the eight-acre estate’s courtyards, antique stone church windows imported from England form a focal point near a reflecting pool lined by linden trees and boxwood.

Even in the bleakest weather, evergreens such as boxwood provide a welcome burst of color. Says Hruby’s colleague, Kevin Campion, “Always include evergreen plantings in your landscape; they provide structure in the winter. And a dusting of snow on a winter garden can be delightful.” Landscape Architecture: Bob Hruby, PLA, ASLA, Campion Hruby Landscape Architects. Landscape Design: Chapel Valley Landscape Company. Pools & Water Fountains: Lewis Aquatech.  

The late landscape architects James van Sweden and Wolfgang Oehme first conceived a 16-acre project on the West River, overlooking Kent Island, in 2007. The firm they co-founded—now known as OvS—continues to nurture the Harwood, Maryland, garden to the present day.

The owners enjoy dramatic river vistas all year round. Snowy views illustrate what van Sweden called the “winter bouquet,” according to OvS principal Lili Herrera. “Today, we know the importance of letting spent material overwinter, providing habitat and refuge for insects that are a critical part of the food chain, as well as birds,” she says.

Herrera reminds clients to consider the structure plants retain beyond summer. “During the winter, grasses frame views out to the water and also provide privacy,” she says. “The foliage of grasses, perennials and their seed heads can be viewed as a complement to the winter garden—with or without snow.”

On such a spectacular site, wonders abound in every season. “The winter colors are more muted but equally beautiful,” Herrera reflects. “And the rustling of spent foliage creates a unique sensory experience. We love hearing the sound of grasses in the wind.” Landscape Architecture & Photography: OvS. 

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