Aesthetics, Textures, and Continuity In Effective Garden Design

  |  April 9, 2015

“In garden arrangement, as in all other kinds of decorative work, one not only has to acquire knowledge of what to do, but also gain some wisdom in perceiving what it is well to let alone” – Gertrude Jekyll

Gertrude Jekyll, with the exception of Capability Brown, was perhaps one of the world’s most influential garden designers and artists. According to Hudson Valley landscape designer Scott Zimmer, “everyone should take at least one art course. Not only does it provide the individual with an insight into the creative process, it also allows the individual to understand dynamics of color, texture, and aesthetics.” Zimmer is the head of landscape design firm Zimmer Gardens, who’s built his business on the principals that an understanding of the application of color, textures and the natural terrain are essential to a well implemented garden design.


Drought-resistant and low maintenance plantings are crucial design elements for weekend gardens

For an interior designer, the touchstone projects are those where the client, architect, interior designer and landscape designer work as a unified front. Zimmer – architecturally trained through the Pratt Institute, accomplished ceramicist, and versed in Historical Preservation – is in many regards a savvy clients landscape design dream. He understands how a structure, its setting, and even its interior should work as one. There should be a continuity, an established style aesthetic. Incidentally, it is this same continuity Henry Francis DuPont applied as he designed his rooms, gardens and structures at Winterthur.

Hiring a landscape designer to create a working landscape plan is “the most prudent investment one can make in one’s garden,” says Zimmer. Developing a plan and sticking to it eliminates the uncertainties as a garden evolves over time. Zimmer Gardens, a boutique design firm, offers a hands-on approach to both garden installation and design. Unlike larger firms, Zimmer is fully hands-on with the planting of materials. Zimmer’s own garden is his testing ground for plant species and varieties. By testing in his garden, Zimmer better understands which varieties thrive and how they develop over time. “In some cases I develop the design plan, then accompany the client to nurseries to select the plantings,” he says. For those clients who prefer to be involved in the actual process, he happily works alongside them during the installation process. “Some clients like to actually get down and dirty.” Their goal is to be trained in how to maintain their own landscape.


Zimmer – a trained ceramicist – applies the same creative talents to his garden designs

A dual Hudson Valley resident for a number of years, Zimmer understands the maintenance issues confronted by weekenders. “I lived as a dual resident, I understand no one wants to spend their entire weekend working in their garden,” he says. Developing a garden design emphasizing low-maintenance and draught resistant components are essentials to a successful weekend garden.

Gardening is an intrinsically simple yet emotional experience. Some people do not plant gardens because they are “AFRAID.” They’re afraid the plants will die. A plant’s death is an emotional experience. People become very easily attached to the tree which was planted when their child was born, or to the shrub planted in memory of a beloved family member. The fear of a plants death can often be seen as a failure. It is that fear which restricts some from planting.

The Hudson Valley, with its natural stone out-cropping, indigenous blue stone, and native plant material is a heaven for garden design. On the other hand, there are the deer, those dreaded munching locusts who devoir vegetation indiscriminately. Zimmer offers clients a number of options for combating the ever-invading deer population. Deer fencing naturally provides an effective barrier. However, partner-planting, scent plantings and deer repellents are also effective. Partnering a deer resistant plant with non-deer resistant plants may be very effective. Deer repellents may be effective if applied on a consistently bi-weekly or thrice weekly schedule. Boxwoods, grasses, and zina, are just a few of Zimmer’s favorite deer resistant species.


Mixtures of textures and colors define a gardens’ aesthetic

This weekend Zimmer, a proponent of container gardening, will be providing a live container planting demonstration. Partnering with Milne’s At Home Antiques (located in Kingston’s Historic Roundout District), Zimmer will be exhibiting completed container designs while also providing a demonstration of combining colors and textures for planters. Milne’s extensive collection of urns, pots and varied containers provide a means of transforming even the simplest of spaces into a garden. Container gardening for Zimmer is the perfect testing ground for those who may be afraid to launch a full-scale gardening project.

Zimmer describes a perfect client as a woman with a Gucci Bag, diamond ring, a floppy hat and soiled sneakers. Instantly you realize the client is elegant, relaxed and has an essential comfortable style. Like interior designers, landscape designers are a methodical and observant lot. A client’s clothing, color choices, and the interior of their home are crucial tools in designing a landscape. Your favorite wardrobe colors as well as your interior paint selections are often reinterpreted in your planting selections.

This weekend, take the time to visit Milne’s At Home Antiques, on Saturday April 11, from 1pm-4 pm. You will enjoy having the opportunity to meet, talk, and learn with Scott Zimmer. Who knows, you might even find your perfect landscape designer.


The simplest pairings of plantings enhance any garden room or sitting nook

About Haynes Llewellyn

Haynes Llewellyn, an interior designer, preservationist and accomplished party planner, relocated to the Hudson Valley city of Kingston from Manhattan’s Central Park West neighborhood in 2007. During Haynes’s almost nine years in the Hudson Valley, he has been featured in numerous television, radio, magazine and newspaper interviews. Haynes’s first Kingston restoration project was of a Historic 1840’s Greek Revival home, featured in the recently released Rizzoli Interior Design book Heart and Home: Rooms that Tell Stories by Linda Okeeffe. Haynes has served on a number of boards of directors, event committees and commissions since arriving in the Hudson Valley. Haynes, along with his two Scottish Terrier Rescues and partner Gary Swenson, is currently in the process of renovating his second Kingston home, a 1939 Colonial.

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