leisure 04.24.03

Landscape Design

We spoke with landscape architect Adrian Smith about some of his favorite NYC sources. Mr. Smith has designed everything from rooftop terraces in Manhattan to formal gardens in the countryside. He'll do a free consultation if you have a project in mind; call him at 917.592.8753.

MUG: What's your landscape design style?

A.S.: I usually strive for clean lines, pure forms and simple and clear color schemes. Sometimes bold, sometimes subtle. The final composition should reflect not only the client's individuality, but the unique qualities of the site (whether it's a roof garden with expansive views, or a townhouse garden with intimate views). I try to avoid discussions of style - modern versus traditional, formal versus informal. A good design stands on its own.

MUG: Who do you like to use for plant installations?
A.S.: Mark Davies of Higher Ground Horticulture, 470 W. 24th [9th/10th] 212.691.3633.Most of his clients are here in the city and he does beautiful work, with lots of wispy grasses and sun-loving perennials for rooftops, or, if it's a back yard, he does more shade-tolerant plants.

MUG: Is there an outdoor furniture designer who stands out?
A.S.: John Danzer, of Munder-Skiles, 799 Mad [67th/68th] 212.717.0150, is an accomplished designer and a great guy to work with. He has a terrific eye for creating outdoor rooms with his furniture and accessories. He actually considers himself an exterior decorator.

MUG: Who makes great pots?
A.S.: Seibert and Rice, www.seibert-rice.com 973.467.8266, owned by Mara Seibert and Lenore Rice, have great products. They're expensive, but they fit in with modern as well as traditional gardens. The pots can withstand the freeze/thaw of our winters, which means that you don't have to lug all of your pots inside for the cold weather. Besides the traditional Italian terra cotta pots, some of their pots are created by American designers like Guy Wolff. Guy is incredibly creative and is committed to the old-fashioned craft of throwing each pot individually - they're not pressed out of a mold by a machine.
MUG: If I only have a window box, what do you suggest I plant?
A.S.: The most important thing for container gardening is irrigation, since they dry outvery quickly. You can use a watering can, a hose that attaches to your sink or an irrigation system. These systems aren't usually too expensive, but do require someone to turn it on in the spring and off in the fall. For that, I'd use Decklund Keane at Estelle Irrigation, 212.243.7209.

Possible plants for window boxes and pots are wide open. In sunny locations, ivy geraniums flower profusely and are a little different from the norm. New Guinea impatiens have darker, larger leaves than regular impatiens and similar bright flowers. Trailing vines that hang down give the plants in the box an added dimension. You can plant a million kinds of ivy, from fine textures to variegated to the standard green. Consider, too, tropical-style plants (elephant ears, potato vine) or grasses: pennisetum, switch grass, miscanthus and more.

In shade: Coleus for their colored leaves, regular impatiens are an old standby for lots of color, and you can also try some perennials like hostas for their leafy character.

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