A Sense of Place

Gate in an ancient yew hedge at Levens Hall, England's oldest garden.

Gate in an ancient yew hedge at Levens Hall, England's oldest garden.

The art of landscape design is by its nature ephemeral. While we have both histories of architecture and the buildings which date back sometimes millennia to experience our connection to the past, the history of gardens usually relies upon descriptions, drawings and plans from earlier eras to describe what once was (or to recreate what once was). One exception is the extraordinary Levens Hall garden in northern England, which was designed in the 1690s. 

Topiary, Levens Hall, England.

Topiary, Levens Hall, England.

Levens Hall garden has been continuously maintained since its first days, in the 1690s and many of its topiary are 300 years old. It has walls of beech and yew hedging, a potager garden, an orchard, a rose garden, a bowling green, a "wilderness," and other mysterious, less purposeful but extremely atmospheric rooms. Its original owner, before the garden was commenced, lost the property through gambling ("Colonel James Grahme acquired the property, and the old tradition that Levens was won with the turn of the Ace of Hearts probably has some foundation in fact" --the estate's website).

Levens Hall, yew hedge (windows, crenellations, and doorway).

Levens Hall, yew hedge (windows, crenellations, and doorway).

A sense of place abides here with centuries of footsteps, sharing the path with those strolling before by 10, 50, 90, 150, 300 years. At the same time, the architecture is mostly living, and when you realize that the current head gardener is only the 10th since the 1690s, that this living artwork has roots which connect you directly to the past. . . . It is not an ordinary feeling.

Topiary garden at Levens Hall

Topiary garden at Levens Hall

Levens Hall : house and its topiary garden.

Levens Hall : house and its topiary garden.

For more about this garden : http://www.levenshall.co.uk/levens-hall-gardens-historic-topiary-in-cumbria/garden-history.html

Some Autumn 2016 "BEFORE"s underway . . . .

Twelve Gardens Ltd. is working with Pell Overton Architecture on the roof garden for Brooklyn Heights Montessori School. Model of bridge connecting 2 rooftop garden / recreation areas (Pell Overton).

Twelve Gardens Ltd. is working with Pell Overton Architecture on the roof garden for Brooklyn Heights Montessori School. Model of bridge connecting 2 rooftop garden / recreation areas (Pell Overton).

"BEFORE" image of an Upper West Side backyard. Designs underway!

"BEFORE" image of an Upper West Side backyard. Designs underway!

Stay tuned as these projects go from concepts through design development to construction!

"AFTER" : landscape completed in Brooklyn

If you visited us in Spring then you know we have a lot of projects on the roster and that they've been finding their way through the NYC approvals process, then through lead-times on material orders. . . . Well, now some of them are complete!

Backyard garden in Carroll Gardens has new bluestone terrace, flight of stairs, stone wall, gravel "secret" garden area, and plantings.

Backyard garden in Carroll Gardens has new bluestone terrace, flight of stairs, stone wall, gravel "secret" garden area, and plantings.

Looking back toward the house. 

Looking back toward the house. 

The new flight of steps isn't gloomy because of the perforations in the metal. It is plenty light and plenty convenient.

The new flight of steps isn't gloomy because of the perforations in the metal. It is plenty light and plenty convenient.

Carroll Gardens Brooklyn garden

Spring 2016 : Designs underway

We're working on gardens around town--or towns, rather! Near and far. The schematic design is an overall composition of a garden. It identifies the elements, functions, flow, style of a garden. 

Check out a few of our projects underway !

nyc roof garden

Views from this midtown Manhattan roof are spectacular, so they are highlighted in the design: there are several "lookout" points around the proposed garden. Trees, a green roof and entertaining areas meet the client's multiple needs for views of nature, beauty, and a space for meetings and parties. Native plants and green roof will help support insects and birds, adding to the biophilic benefits of the garden.

An Upper West Side Manhattan backyard garden has 2 levels, one the garden level, the other on the first floor. Its owner wants to look out on a peaceful scene from the house. A new footbridge will connect a balcony to the upper level of the garden.  A flight of steps connects the lower and upper back garden levels. 

Schematic design (3 options, preliminary design phase) for Los Angeles backyard garden.

Schematic design (3 options, preliminary design phase) for Los Angeles backyard garden.

BEFORE image of a Los Angeles backyard--design underway!

BEFORE image of a Los Angeles backyard--design underway!

A backyard garden redesign which focuses on native plants, rainwater collection, a kitchen garden, a view, a family performance space, and a whole lot more. The client is eager to select plants that will support the local ecosystem, from butterflies to birds. 

©2016 Twelve Gardens Ltd.