There’s something magical about an outdoor summer soirée. Sizzling steaks on a mesquite grill, flickering candles, the icy bite of champagne in the moonlight. If only summer could last all year. That was the thinking of Kathy and Kevin Boardman when they hired Wallace Associates, Inc. to landscape their New Castle, Del., property.
“Our goal was to create a great, year-round, family entertaining area,” says Kevin. “We started with ideas about a free-form pool, but in the process of working with Timothy Peterson of Wallace, the whole project flowed in ways we hadn’t visualized.” The pool was customized to fit the Boardmans” “long, skinny” yard. By adding a retaining wall and a flower bed, a large entertaining area, with an outdoor cooking area as the focal point, was created. “We have a large grill with a side bar, sink, and refrigerator with seating for ten. It’s fantastic,” says Kevin, who cooked steak and lobster on his outdoor grill on New Year’s Eve.
“Outdoor kitchens have come into their own,” says Tim Peterson. “High-end outdoor appliances from Viking, Décor, Wolf, and Kalamazoo have changed the way we think about cooking outside. It’s no longer just about the size of the grill. The goal now is a coordinated entertaining area with side burners, warming drawers, ice makers, and sinks.”
Dan Dodge, showroom manager at Viking Culinary Arts Center in Bryn Mawr, says, “Viking offers a complete package with beverage centers, gas burners, stainless steel cabinetry, and grills with a high-sear option for blackening fish and steaks.” Viking grills also come with rotisseries and a smoke feature for smoking pork loin in applewood or a rack of lamb in mesquite.
Meg Conner knew that the landscaping of her St. David’s house needed “freshening.” But several years passed before she called Wallace Associates, whose ad she had seen in Architectural Digest. “There never really was a backyard,” Meg says. “We had a one-acre, overgrown, woodland setting with lots of trees and shade. I wanted a beautiful place to entertain.”
That’s exactly what the Conners got, working with Tim Peterson. “They had added an extra garage and a garden room. We re-configured their walkway and flagstone patio to tie all the elements together,” says Peterson. The result is a three-season backyard with perennial plantings—azaleas, rhododendrons, dogwood, hydrangeas, and holly—that thrive in the shade. “The color range is soft pink, lilac, and white,” says Meg, who is delighted with the transformation. “We now use our deck and patio for entertaining and dine there often.” But she views her grounds as a work-in-progress.
“Every year, I have a new project for Tim,” she says. “Wallace has been very easy to work with. They are open to our ideas. They listen to us, instead of imposing their ideas on our property.”
Meg is particularly enamored of how pretty her garden is in the spring. “Wallace has a party once a year at a client’s house to show off their work,” she says. “We were thrilled when they selected our garden as the setting for their annual Open House.”
If you are waiting out the recession before investing in landscaping, think again. “One-tenth of the value of your home should be in landscape,” says John Fridy of NatureScapes, in Paoli. “It improves the curb appeal of your property, as well as increasing your enjoyment of your home.” This is especially relevant during a time when many folks will be spending their summer at home instead of exploring Tuscany or renting a shore house. Fridy’s landscaping philosophy emphasizes a naturalistic, low-maintenance design, using native plants when possible. “I am for sequential blooms so that your garden is constantly in a state of renewal.”
But the number one enemy of any garden is deer, Fridy reminds us. “Valley Forge Park has over 1,500 head of deer and they travel,” says Fridy, who steers his clients toward perennials, trees, and shrubs that do not attract the interest of Bambi.
“We take into consideration the architecture of the house, the topography of the land, the presence of sun and shade, as well as our client’s budget.”
“Sustainability” is the buzzword for Jonathan Alderson Landscape Architects, Inc. in Wayne. “We take a holistic approach, from the economy to ecology, using native and adaptive plants that require less maintenance,” says Alderson. Noting that deer not only turn your garden into the Country Buffet, but get into mischief pulling up plants just for the fun of it, Alderson favors the flowering spice bush and witch hazel which do not attract the creatures. Among Alderson’s ongoing projects is the Scott Arboretum at Swarthmore College.
When you landscape for year-round entertaining, one of the most important design decisions will be your choice of outdoor furniture. Tim Peterson directs clients to Terrain in Concordville, Pa., an elegant garden center that specializes in upscale outdoor furniture by companies such as Fermob, manufactured in France, and EMU from Italy, among others. With Fermob, you can bring the Jardin du Luxembourg or the charm of a Parisian cafe into your backyard. Want a more contemporary look? Fermob’s Dune and Alize Collection will transform your garden into a villa on the French Riviera with its sleek, sexy lines. Italy’s EMU Outdoor Furniture Collection is as tempting as a box of Godiva chocolates, creating the same problem: which to choose? From wicker to wrought iron, from modular to classic, from streamlined simplicity to posh elegance, the choices are dazzling. Fortunately, Terrain has a charming café where you can fine-tune your decorating decisions over a scrumptious dessert or cup of Chamomile.
Peterson also recommends Casual Marketplace in Hockessin and Lewes, Del., for a wide selection of outdoor furniture, including Brown Jordan, Gloster, Hanamint, Kingsley Bate, Winston, and Woodward, among others.
EMU, Fermob, and other exclusive brands draw residents of Montgomery, Chester, and Delaware counties to The Hill Company’s locations in Chestnut Hill and Worcester, Pa. Their wicker collection includes Lloyd Flanders, Londons” Barlow Tyrie, Woodward, EMU, and Telescope Casual. For a classic cedar Adirondack chair, look to Seaside Casual made in New England. You”ll also find Kingsley-Bates, America’s leading manufacturer of teak outdoor furniture, at The Hill Company, along with Gloster teak garden benches and seats.
For designer decor at discount prices, shop online at Home Depot, Sam’s Club and, yes, Target. You may be surprised at both the quality and the savings. Target features The Sean Conway™ Tiverton Collection, and Smith & Hawken®. Sam’s Club offers outdoor dining sets and seating by Brighton, Havana, La-Z-Boy®, Martinique, and Milan. At Home Depot you”ll find collections by dozens of manufacturers, including Hampton Bay, Thomasville, and Eden Arbors. One of the conveniences of shopping online is that you can check customer reviews, compare prices, and print out photos—all from the comfort of your beautifully landscaped garden.