Gardens For Now: View From The Veranda Panel Recap
On Monday, December 14th, the New York Design Center hosted the second interactive panel discussion in the “View from the Veranda” lecture series with Steele Marcoux, Veranda Magazine editor in chief, alongside Keith Williams and Mario Nievera of leading landscape architectural firm Nievera Williams.
Click the image to watch the discussion!
Together, Steele, Keith and Mario, discussed what outdoor living means today, how open-air spaces can be used as an escape, and what landscape trends are emerging now. The duo also shared a range of inspiring images from their projects across the US from Greenwich, Connecticut to Palm Beach, Florida, and beyond.
Gardens for Now Keith Williams: “If you were to ask us what trends where happening a year ago, people were downsizing. People were buying more modest sized homes, more modest sized gardens – looking for property that was easier to maintain and take care of. Now, it’s the opposite. People are back to buying more secluded properties and larger land. And they are looking to incorporate all the amenities they’d typically find at a club or in the city. Large swimming pools, fire pits, tennis courts, basketball courts. It may seem over the top, but people want it all in their gardens now, so they don’t have to go anywhere.”
Gardens for Gathering Steele Marcoux: “It’s been a movement for a long time, and its only accelerated in the year of 2020, that people are choosing to gather outside so much more than inside. And what better place to do that than in a beautifully designed garden.”
Mario Nievera: “Yes, exactly. People are traveling in small groups now and they all want activities outside. We worked on this one project in Greenwich, Connecticut, where the client went into pandemic panic. The family comprised of young parents and four kids – four boys – didn’t put as much thought into the landscaping in 2019. But around springtime of this year, we embarked on a very big project with them (in a very short time frame). The grading along the lawn in the back of the house was sloped so we changed the whole lawn, raised it up brought in tons and tons of dirt, to ensure the boys had room for soccer and football. We created a living terrace and dining terrace, and mid-project added a terrace off the family room and even a firepit terrace. So, this example really does answer the question about the sudden need for outdoor gathering spaces.”
Gardens for Escape Mario Nievera: “Keith and I are known for the level of detail that goes into our work. So, when we think of creating an escape, we think of infusing the garden with the details that will help support the imagery and feeling of the place our clients are dreaming of – to transport them to another place.”
Gardens for the Future Steele Marcoux: “What about the role of preservation in your work?”
Mario Nievera: “We want to extend and solidify the legacy of homes. We want to create something that is everlasting – which means plant material choices that, we hope, will be there for 30 years, decorative materials and accessories that really enhance the environment, both visually and from an ecological standpoint. We aim to create a sense of preservation where preservation may not have existed previously.”
Keith Williams: “We actually worked on one property that was an oceanfront property that had essentially become an overgrown jungle. It was a wetland that the client didn’t even realized he owned or had. As we started to clear it out, the client loved it so much he wanted to find a way to experience it, so we designed a boardwalk that meandered through it. It’s pretty incredible because the new design now protects an ecosystem that once was there and had disappeared over time because it was mismanaged. But now it has come back and it’s full of mangroves and grasses and all kinds of native plant materials. It brought back the birds, the butterflies, the bees. Wildlife returned to the property. In fact, the client started his own beehive because of it.”
Mario Nievera: “This project really was a stroke of genius – Keith’s genius. He created a window that looks out to the wetlands. He created the opportunity for our clients, and their friends, children, and children’s children to interact with the landscape.”
The “View from the Veranda” series invites experts to share their perspective on global design as it relates to the outdoors and the intersection of indoor-outdoor living, presented in partnership with The New York Design Center, The Horticultural Society of New York, and Design Centre Chelsea Harbour.
To watch the full conversation, visit the New York Design Center YouTube channel here. Stay tuned for the next installment in the series, hosted by Steele Marcoux, in early 2021.