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Article : French Inspired Neo-Classical Garden

French Inspired Neo-Classical Garden

by Lara Moffat, MLA, Lambert Landscape Co.




The Dallas home’s fašade is adorned with bold striped awnings, over-sized iron lanterns and stylized iron railings, both designed by landscape architect Paul Fields. In time, rambling roses will cover the tile roof. Almost resembling a green tent and embellishing the adjoining walls is orange-berried pyracantha formally espaliered in a diamond pattern. Wanting the feel of a resort, the cushions of the furniture were custom upholstered and like the ironwork, link all the garden rooms together. To soften the vastness of limestone hardscape, a fountain was replaced with a lush lawn panel. Colorful seasonal plantings of Mandevilla vines (red flowers) and Blue Daze (Evolvulus), the purple flowers, fill the lead and Impruneta terracotta containers.
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Attention to detail is the key to this garden’s success. And as renovations go, achieving such success sometimes can be a challenge. However in this case, a creative collaboration between the client, interior designer and landscape architect shaped a Dallas, Texas residence that exceeds the clients’ expectations and excites every guest’s senses.




Terminating the southern axis of the property is a recumbent stag. Its placement and the aperture of the hedge deceives the eye into thinking the garden is more extensive.

Introduced by the interior designer, landscape architect Paul Fields quickly developed rapport with the well-traveled client. Paul’s design sensibility melded with hers immediately and his talent to take the client’s desires, the site’s needs, and create a garden that envelops the home with architectural appropriateness met her aspirations. It is interesting to note that though the home was Italian in style, the client wished for the property to have the feel of a summerhouse in southern France. Think formal, classical, manicured, yet bright and cheerful with a mix of elegant yet casual elements throughout a series of garden rooms.




The first-time visitor to the residence is greeted by heavily carved gate piers and beautifully hand-wrought ironwork. Green walls of ‘Nellie R. Stevens’ hollies screen and enclose the property.

Design du Jardin
Approaching the property entrance, a first time visitor is greeted by heavily carved gate piers and beautifully hand-wrought ironwork. Green walls of Nellie Stevens hollies purposely screen the landscape enclosed. Entering the Valders’ cobble oval drive, an antique marble fountain feature centered in a quatrefoil limestone, framed by a low boxwood hedges and mass seasonal plantings, setting the tone for the design delights one is about to experience.

Mature live oaks flank the bed, framing the residence, while grounding the architecture and disguising its age. Both were transplanted on site to create the symmetry, which demanded a creative solution to a potential logistical nightmare. For those wondering, the trees are healthy and thriving.




Geraniums offer a nice color contrast to these boxwood hedges.


In keeping with the renovations stylistic theme of southern France, the home’s fašade is adorned with bold striped awnings, a casual juxtaposition against the formality of the architecture. In addition, large authentic custom-painted Provence Versailles boxes add scale to the entrance with standard Indian Hawthornes, underplanted with striking seasonal plantings. Over-sized iron lanterns and stylized iron railings, both designed by Paul Fields, harmonize and unify this space here and they are an important element in the garden rooms beyond.




Looking back along the front and down the front garden’s expanse, the view is visually lengthened by geometrical lawn panels and beds that line a cobble offshoot of the motor court. Centered in vivid, monochromatic annual plantings is playful, Italian marble putti statuary.


Looking back along the front and down the front garden’s expanse, the view is visually lengthened by geometrical lawn panels and beds that line a cobble offshoot of the motor court. Centered in vivid, monochromatic annual plantings is playful, Italian marble putti statuary. Within a site, garden ornaments act as both foci and collectively provide unification. Terminating the southern axis is a recumbent stag. Its placement and the aperture of the hedge deceives the eye into thinking the garden is more extensive than its bounds. Consequently it also draws a visitor further into the garden, inviting exploration.



The cobblestone (Valders) oval drive leads to an antique marble fountain centered in a quatrefoil limestone, framed by a low boxwood hedge and mass seasonal plantings. Mature live oaks, transplanted on site, frame the residence, while grounding the architecture and disguising its age. The trees are healthy and thriving.


Walking through the home, the landscape is visible from almost every window and glimpses of the series of garden rooms unfold. Exiting through the loggia, once stark with little softscape to diminish the harsh eastern exposure, it is now as though you are not in Dallas at all. The previous design enclosed paving up to the rear fašade. To soften the vastness of limestone, a fountain was replaced with a lush lawn panel and dense creeping fig now covers the stucco columns. Colorful seasonal plantings fill the lead and Impruneta terra cotta containers that are sited strategically.

The views from the loggia include the azure pool flanked by pleached magnolias (Magnolia grandiflora) and conclude at the pavilion, though the ‘borrowed’ scenery beyond again gives the sense that the property is much larger. Part of the inherited landscape, the structure received a “warming up” transformation with colorful drapery, large scale lanterns and a mix of formal and naturalistic plantings. In time, rambling roses will cover the tile roof.




A grove of pleached magnolias are bordered by a checkerboard of Lueders limestone and Tiff Bermuda.

Almost resembling a green tent and embellishing the adjoining walls is orange berried pyracantha formally espaliered in a diamond pattern. Wanting the feel of a resort, the cushions of the furniture were custom upholstered and like the ironwork, link all the garden rooms together.




The child (putto) in this French stone/marble fountain holds a trident astride a stylized dolphin surmounting a scallop shell bowl circa 1850. “Putto” means “small boy” or “child” in Italian and derives from the Latin “putus,” little man. Art historian Juan Carlos Martinez notes that cherubs and putti historically had different roles. Cherubs represented angels and putti were associated with Eros and Cupid of Greek and Roman mythology.

Arcade Terrace
The arcade garden terrace, formally the site of a greenhouse, bears no resemblance to its former self. Intrigue, deception, luxury, contrast and excitement all describe the feelings one experiences when approaching this space. Truly an extension of the home’s interior, though it is completely plein air.

Designed and ornamented to invite lingering, the arcade garden includes two distinct areas: seating near the fireplace and dining close to the outdoor kitchen. The fireplace features a repurposed mantle from the home’s interior of which an antique coat of arms anchors and is offset by Paul’s lanterns that appear throughout the garden. Bounding on opposite sides is formed by the arcade’s arches. To the left is an opening with statuary of a dog upon a pedestal, situated on a limestone and grass harlequin patterned terrace. And to the right is an identical archway…or is it? A trompe l’oeil, mirroring the adjacent garden, temporarily tricks the eye. Painted by the head restorer of the Hermitage, this whimsical mural continues the theme of attention to detail to create a sensational experience. The perspective wall painting draws the eye from the real, lemon trees placed outside in antique containers, to the illustrated citrus allee characteristic of a southern French summerhouse garden.




The views from the loggia include the azure pool flanked by pleached magnolias and conclude at the pavilion.


How does the landscape architect create a garden of such timeless design?
“A great garden is a garden that has style,” explains Paul Fields, ASLA, president and director of design for Lambert. “For a garden to evoke a sense of style, it must be designed with deliberation. A fine garden design seamlessly complements the architecture of a home and blurs the interior and exterior living spaces. I am drawn to and most enjoy designing gardens that have a sense of containment or open-air rooms. These spaces form great backdrops for plantings, specimen trees, benches and garden ornaments. As outdoor rooms, they should have openings along axes that draw us from one space to another. Each space should be designed with a deliberate purpose in mind, be it usage such as a pool for swimming, a quiet contemplative space with a bench, or the celebration of a garden ornament or piece of sculpture.”




The courtyard comprises limestone cobble derived from the Valders basin and limestone steps and walls from Lueders Quarry in West Texas, said to be a harder, denser limestone than most others. Zinnias decorate the boxwood hedges.


Paul’s awareness of a client’s desires and the need’s of the site, sensitivity to design, and his collaboration with exceptional craftsman harmoniously create gardens such as this French Inspired neo-classical garden.

About the Firm
Lambert, which celebrated its 90th year in 2009, is the oldest design/build landscape architectural firm in Dallas. Lambert also has maintenance and tree care divisions. Paul Fields, ASLA, president and director of design, spearheads Lambert’s award-winning garden development. During his more than 20 years with Lambert, he has built his reputation on creating gardens using principles of classical garden design. With the focus on high-end residential, he strongly believes in design achieved with a unified design team that includes the client, the landscape architect, architect and interior designer.

A graduate of Mississippi State University, Mr. Fields has a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture and began his tenure with Lambert while a student. His designs have been published in several national publications and have received numerous awards at the regional, national and international levels.

Lara Moffat initially studied art before focusing on ornamental horticulture at Richland and embarking on her master’s in landscape architecture at UTA. Lara interned with the American Horticultural Society in Alexander, Va., the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Society and at Lambert before joining the design team as a garden designer. She’s been with the firm since 2000 and now serves as our director of marketing & recruitment.


The centerpiece of the arcade garden is a fireplace with a repurposed mantle from the home’s interior, featuring an antique coat of arms flanked by lanterns designed by landscape architect Paul Fields. There is seating near the fireplace and also at the dining area close to the outdoor kitchen. At the center of the arch to the left of the fireplace is a dog statue on a pedestal, set on a limestone and grass harlequin-patterned terrace. The “arch” and dog statue on the right side of the fireplace is actually a mural painted by the chief restorer of the Hermitage, a trompe l’oeil that mirrors the real arch. This whimsical perspective wall painting draws the eye from the real lemon trees placed in antique containers in front of the mural to the illustrated citrus allee characteristic of a southern French summerhouse garden. The hardscape here is limestone in three colors.


Older Comments
Name: kate yoklavichWrote in with general comment
Comment: Wonderful article on a beautiful landscape/hardscape project. I was pleasantly suprised that plant materials, stone and even planters were identified throughout the article. Well done - one of the best articles yet.

Name: Brynn  BruijnWrote in with general comment
Comment: Absolutely fantastic landscaping. Exquisite taste with perfect proportions. A dream job.

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November 20, 2014, 3:29 pm EST

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