Photos by Andre Baranowski
When a Lewisboro estate needed a refresh, landscape designer Katherine Moreau added flowers and intentional plantings for a beautiful scene.
After Katherine Moreau’s neighbors in Lewisboro completed an addition to their 1914 Arts & Crafts-style house, they realized that the landscape also needed rethinking. Knowing that Moreau is a New York Botanical Garden-certified landscape designer and commercial horticulturist, the neighbors enlisted her help.
Moreau, the founder and design principal of landscape design company Verdant View (verdantview.net), began redesigning her neighbors’ property in 2018. Due to the sheer scale, Moreau planned to take the landscape upgrade one step at a time: The property features 18 acres flowing down to a lake.
The goal was to create a low-maintenance landscape with panache. Every space around the house, including the recreational areas, was earmarked for updating (think a dicey ledge with shallow soil that became an ingenious rock garden). Initially, Moreau focused on the scene immediately around the house to get the revamp going and find the garden’s feng shui.
As she could see the property with a fresh eye, Moreau identified the strength of a series of sculpted crab-apple trees that formed a flow to the kitchen door, yet she recognized that several needed to be replaced. Once that was done, the border at the foot of the trees also looked like it might benefit from a revamp. Moreau expanded the border and added a combination of annuals and perennials.
The borders designed for this outdoor space frame views, creating a sense of continuity and establishing pathways that lead into recreational spaces on the expansive yard (which features a pool and tennis courts). In keeping with the naturalistic emphasis of the property, Moreau used curving, winding, relaxed lines, rather than strong, sharp geometric shapes, in her border edging. “It’s very dynamic now, and the colors echo surrounding greenery,” she says. “[The mood is] sophisticated but not pretentious,” she adds.
Moreau incorporated plantings with splashes of harmonious hues. The goal was to ensure color throughout the growing season. For annuals and perennials, Moreau chose a color scheme of peach, red, purple, blue, cream, and chartreuse, which continues throughout the landscape. Moreau says that no matter where you go on the property, the color scheme continues, creating a connection.
For the garden leading to the kitchen door, Moreau wove together a foliage tapestry of low-growing perennials, such as heuchera, brunnera, and lady’s mantle. Above that leafy layer, she added peonies and roses as perennially flowering players in the brew. For later-season sensations, she used autumn-blooming anemones. Then, she sprinkled in annuals, such as purple salvias, to form a serene mid-level harmony. (Annuals are incorporated throughout the property, but the proportion has decreased with time, from 30% to 40% of the annuals plantings initially to about 10% now.) A froth of white, ground-hugging alyssum forms a skirt along the border’s edge (alyssum is a favorite of Moreau’s, as it is valued for its season-long, steadfast blooming performance). The result is painterly.
The long-season-blossoming blitz creates a happy place for the eyes. But there’s an ulterior motive here as well. Throughout the year, pollinators also find fodder and quench their needs. Plenty of shrubs and trees are layered to shelter birds and their nests. Flowering shrubs provide seasonal sustenance for wildlife, while annuals fill in when perennials pause. The landscape services creatures great and small, and the garden is often buzzing with activity.
Meanwhile, containers around the house and certain window boxes deliver nature to spaces where in-ground planting is not possible. Moreau collaborated with local horticulturist Valerie Becker on the container plantings. They selected a smart and reliable roster of plants, including natives, to perform throughout the growing season and beyond. In keeping with the home’s Arts & Crafts-style exterior, which features stucco and stone and a slate roof, olive-colored window boxes cradling Fuchsia Gartenmeister Bonstedt, begonias, million bells, Angelonia, Coleus, and ivies (in a palette of soothing apricots, salmons, and cream) give the house flamboyance. All the plantings offer color from spring onward while merging heights to frame, but not overcome, the exterior of the windows.
Shrubs and trees near the house that were diseased were removed. The tall backdrop was preserved by installing mature specimens and conserving everything possible.
For the backyard, Moreau’s client preferred, instead of woodchips, “green mulch” — low-growing plants, such as creeping Jenny and alyssum, that are tucked in as hardworking space holders in lieu of mulch — a win-win for the environment. Trees such as Japanese maples, Montgomery spruces, metasequoias, and Kousa dogwoods give the property lushness over the long haul.
The selection of brightly colored flora, a commitment to conserving the property, and dedication to a beautiful upgrade provided the homeowners with a luxuriant space for years to come. As the homeowner affirms: “Kathy transformed a good landscape into a great landscape.”