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oth my client and his wife knew my work well (which manycritics and commentators have termed "ClassicContemporary"), and were very keen that I transform theirgarden into an outdoor space that would give them, their childrenand their family and friends a "memorable experience" every timethey entered it. Those were the marching orders, and I amimmensely gratified that they are so pleased with the results.Designed by architect Howard Heintzman, my clients' house sitson a large property in the Bridle Path district of Toronto, and isnotable for an oversized front garden quite removed from thestreet and sidewalk. When they purchased the property - myclients are the second owners - they completely customized theinterior to suit their taste, and then decided to customize thegarden as well. That's when I entered the scene. In any design project, it's often an initial decision that will have apivotal impact on the overall look and structure of the landscape.In this instance, it was my client's decision to remove the existingcircular driveway and replace it with a formal entry courtyardgarden. That was an unusual move. Many people believe circulardriveways are the "height of luxe," and because it's often difficultto get planning permission to install one, once in place, they areby Ron HolbrookTHE ART & AESTHETIC OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTUREseldom removed. So when the client informed me of his decisionto remove the existing grand driveway, it opened up the possibilityof creating a truly extraordinary front garden. Secluded from a pretty street by eight-feet tall European beechhedging, the front garden acts as a formal alfresco green entranceroom, although it turns an eye-catching copper colour in the fall.The privacy of the space is maintained year-round because thebeech hedging, which serves to frame and enclose the space,never loses is foliage. Passing through the green hedge wall andentering the garden itself, on an axial walkway framed by an alleyof pear trees and boxwood hedges, you encounter a spacearticulated in a design language that has become my signature:symmetry, balance, and a classical sense of order as expressed, inthis instance, through an expanse of lawn with specimen trees,framed by boxwood, carefully chosen on field trips to severalnurseries with the client. Too often clients forget that working with a landscape architect is acollaborative exercise, and the end result is greatly enhanced - andthe client's satisfaction more assured - if they involve themselves inthe process of choosing the trees and other planting materials. As Ioften tell them, choosing the flora for your garden is more or less akinB11

12to choosing important art, sculpture or furniture with an interiordesigner. This is especially the case with trees, which if poorly chosenand sited can destroy or overpower or even block the look of a home,instead of softening and enhancing its architecture. Like the front courtyard garden, the back garden is framed andenclosed by 10-feet tall beech hedging. This sense of enclosurewas critical because the challenge at the back of the house was to transform a flat, wide open space into a series of outdoorgarden "rooms" that add mystery, intrigue and functionality to thespace, while also providing views from the principal rooms at theback of the house. These back garden "green rooms" are furtheranimated with flowering trees, sculpted spherical boxwood, roses,herbs, and perennials in a lavender and white palette. The primarywalkways throughout the space were made visually softer by theuse of limestone stepping-stones framed in grass. At the back of the property, on an axis with the centre of thehouse, is the pool, flanked on one side by an outdoor pavilion(with a fully equipped outdoor kitchen, fireplace and living/diningarea), and on the other by a pool change room. Such structuresare useful, maybe even essential, to the enjoyment of any gardenbecause they allow the family to enjoy vistas of their garden, thehouse and its architecture, whatever the weather. Still, designing the back garden presented one particularly trickyissue as to the primary focal point of the composition. Because ofthe existing pool's central location in the middle of the backgarden, the eye was inevitably drawn to it. And despite the pool'simportance to the overall experience of the garden, I didn't believeit should overwhelm the landscape design; the garden shouldcommand centre stage. This planning objective was achieved bycreating two generously sized planting beds featuring two matchingornamental pear trees as their centerpiece in the central lawn area. Perhaps to underscore how critical they are to the success of thegarden's overall composition, the two pear trees had to be cranedover the house due to limited side yard access. At no time is theirimportance more evident than in the early evening, or late at night,when they are beautifully lit, framing the view from the indoordining room towards the garden, pool and a manicured evergreenniche on the far side of the pool, which will eventually be the homeof a well-chosen sculptural piece. That artwork will, in alllikelihood, become the ne plus ultra focal point of the back garden.Though designing any garden has its challenges, the real testoccurs once the project is complete - and leaves home, if youlike. Like any worried parent whose kid has flown the coop, I rarelystop thinking about my completed composition: the ongoingmaintenance of a garden is as critical to its success as thegarden's design and installation. In the case of this particular project, the client was prepared toinvest in a knowledgeable and fastidious maintenance crewbecause he knows it's essential to the garden's ongoing health andvitality. Visiting this garden on a yearly basis has been an absolutepleasure for me, due to my client's keen eye and ongoing financialcommitment. Whenever I leave the garden after such a visit I sayto myself, "The kid's doing OK," just like any proud pop. Some wise person once said, "If you love what you do, you'll never'work' a day in your life." Wise words, indeed; I am very blessedthat my work is an abiding passion. Ronald Holbrook is a landscape architect who has worked on a wide variety of national andinternational projects, in both private and public practice. His background and training is inlandscape architecture and the fine arts. Since 1989, Holbrook and Associates has been recognizedas one of Canada's most venerated and respected landscape architectural firms, designing andcreating award-winning gardens and landscapes for a distinguished clientele throughout Canada, the United States, the Caribbean, Bahamas, England, Italy and the Middle East.www.ronaldholbrook.comToo often clients forget that working with alandscape architect is a collaborative exercise,and the end result is greatly enhanced if theyinvolve themselves...