Design

Tour a Naturalistic Garden With Great Structure

This East Coast space is lush and abundant, despite being only three years old

If you’ve ever visited the High Line in New York City or the Lurie Garden in Chicago, you most likely left inspired but overwhelmed. Many of us drool over those beautiful landscapes but can’t ever imagine designing similarly in our scaled-down backyards. Yes, we all want that naturalistic fullness, that seasonality, and that endless diversity when we look out our windows. Garden designer Adam Woodruff spent many years planning and installing large-scale naturalistic landscapes for clients, but for his new home in Marblehead, Massachusetts, he needed to think smaller. In the article 3 Steps to Get a Garden That Fills in Fast, readers got a look into how Adam took the techniques he’d perfected on bigger swaths of land and adopted them for a more modest-sized plot. “It’s an experiment, a learning and teaching tool,” Adam says of his new garden. “I envisioned a captivating atmosphere, painterly in composition yet suited to a smaller residential property of just 10,000 square feet. For these conditions, the garden needed to be deliberate and coherent and not appear wild or unkempt.”

Adam reached out to Matthew Cunningham, a noted New England landscape architect, to collaborate on the design and plan for the space. The hardscaping and woody plants are essential to this organized space and include a herringbone patio, recycled-granite walkways, and an array of gorgeous trees and shrubs. The main attraction, however, is a stylized meadow that arranges plants in layers and bands. Within a few short years the entire space had filled in so beautifully that it’s hard to see—or notice—the neighbors and their properties beyond. This garden now looks like it is 10 years old, yet it has existed only for three years. It has all the allure of a fast-to-mature matrix-style garden—diversity, fullness, and seasonality—but with a bit more legibility and nuance, which a smaller footprint demands. Walk through this enhancing space and you’ll surely be inspired to create a mini–High Line outside your back door.

—Danielle Sherry is the executive editor.

For more about this garden:

Tips for Evolving a Naturalized Garden Quickly

Planting Plan for a Garden That Fills in Fast

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