B eautiful gardens are a border-blurring tapestry of strategic design, strong silhouettes and thoughtful palettes. They elevate the architecture of a home as much as they enhance the lifestyle of its residents.
To landscape designers and talented gardeners, outdoor space is a canvas. They paint with plants and create tricks of the eye – homes can appear larger, vistas made more dramatic and boundaries removed. “When well executed, a fine house rests seamlessly within its setting,” says David Ashmore of Ireland Sotheby’s International Realty.
There is no question that people love their gardens. Professional landscaping services in the United States alone is a multi-billion dollar industry. From backyards to balconies, and from classic gardens to modern vertical ones, these spaces allow homeowners to outwardly personalise their surroundings.
According to the 2018 Remodeling Impact Report from the National Association of Realtors, landscape enhancements and upgrades rank high on the “joy score” of homeownership.
That joy is universal. English, French, Italian, Persian, Japanese gardens, there’s hardly a region or culture that doesn’t have an idealised interpretation of nature.
In the Irish village of Grangecon, about 30 miles south of Dublin, a historic Tudor residence and equestrian farm is set among 256 acres of rolling hills and ancient trees. Flowering gardens, hidden green pathways and classic hedgerows create a magnificent rural retreat, and Ashmore says they add a “majestic provenance and history” to the estate, the effect of which is “magical”.
Just as there are trends in architecture, landscape design is also influenced by other cultural changes. Modern gardens are more inviting and involving, with a focus on the way form and function play into the outdoor experience.
“Creating distinct green ‘rooms’ allows homeowners to travel through their gardens,” says David Bennett, landscape architect and founder of Bennett Design & Landscape in Atlanta, Georgia. “One area might serve as a quiet sanctuary for relaxation, while another is for entertaining.”
Current trends call for whimsically coloured and intricately patterned plants. Some designs embrace a sculptural approach, complemented with ornamental grasses for texture and movement. Traditionalists love the time-honoured aesthetic of formal gardens with their balance, symmetry and strong architectural composition. Cottage gardens are classic in a more informal way, with bursts of colour within an intentionally haphazard look.
Gardens not only paint a picture, they form a narrative – “an intrepid story often told by the adaptations and additions by various owners over time”, says Ashmore.
Pebble Beach, California
“Everything vibrates in harmony,” says designer Juan Pablo Molyneux of this majestic Spanish Colonial–style villa perched on a bluff overlooking the Pacific in Pebble Beach. Molyneux’s renovation has transformed the 1920s-built home into a masterpiece, with a grand salon and dining room, an ocean-view library and six bedrooms, all displaying gracious proportions and one-of-a-kind decorative details. Tall shade trees, emerald grass and meandering pathways contribute to the idyllic feel of the courtyard gardens, where archways are accented by hand-painted tilework by Atelier Prométhée.
$16,500,000 Property ID: 0475587 sothebysrealty.com
Sotheby’s International Realty – Carmel Rancho Brokerage
Michael Canning, Jessica Canning, Nicholas Canning
+1 831 238 5535
In a landmark Seattle neighbourhood of elegant mansions, the privately-gated WillowDon Estate takes in 174ft of waterfront along Lake Washington’s prized shores, covered parking for seven cars and enjoys cutting-edge technological systems and almost two acres of gardens designed by the Olmsted Brothers, who figure prominently in Seattle’s horticultural history.
$7,850,000 Property ID: YEEQ93 sothebysrealty.com
Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty
Mary Norris +1 206 713 2151
Laura Halliday +1 206 399 5842
This is one of the great estates in County Wicklow and just 32 miles from Dublin city centre. With a colourful history and equestrian provenance, the estate features a charming tudor residence surrounded by picturesque grounds and thriving gardens.
€15,000,000 Property ID: ZV6DV7 sothebysrealty.com
Ireland Sotheby’s International Realty
David Ashmore +353 87 251 2909
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Casa Corazón is a majestic beachfront villa with a unique style that combines nature and luxury. Architect Miguel Quintana Pali designed the property with wide walls and open spaces but also infused it with details throughout, such as solid wood beams and impressive palapas. The beautiful interior garden of orchids adds vivid colour and tranquillity into this magnificent residence.
$11,750,000 Property ID: MX3LZ2 sothebysrealty.com
Riviera Maya Sotheby’s International Realty
Violeta Marquez and Eloy Gonzalez +52 9848033026
This property in exclusive Birnam Wood – Montecito’s only gated residential golf course community – is ideal for stylish living and entertaining. It features a formal living room, a dining solarium, an airy open-plan great room and kitchen and three spacious, serene bedrooms. A veranda overlooks the gardens, which include roses and other flowering plants, herbs, manicured hedges, a fountain, verdant lawn and a pool. Beyond a privacy hedge with a decorative iron gate, a fairway beckons.
$4,395,000 Property ID: MBQR68 sothebysrealty.com
Sotheby’s International Realty – Montecito Coast Village Road Brokerage
Maureen McDermut +1 805 570 5545
Iyna Bort Caruso is a New York-based journalist