WRITTEN BY Blair Farris
Every once in a while the stars align. A grand collaboration between homeowner, architect, landscape architect and contractors produces one gestural and exquisite property. As a result, “The house and garden resonate as one continuous whole,” says Nashville landscape architect Ben Page. “It doesn’t always happen this way, but in this case the homeowner was extremely engaged with a thoughtful, proactive program from the beginning.” Page collaborated with celebrated architect Bobby McAlpine to accomplish the clients’ program while infusing beauty and cohesiveness into a stunning property.
The young homeowners with four children required multiple areas for children’s activities while also accommodating many social events. For this philanthropic family, the program required areas for tents, parking, catering and hosting hundreds of people while ensuring a refined, beautiful garden.
The 14-acre property, inspired by an estate in California, is in an old residential neighborhood. The dramatic entrance includes a series of parking courts while approaching the home. The elegant design of the largest parking court consists of poured concrete slabs with dwarf Mondo grass between. An 18th century statue found in a gallery in New York provides the primary focal point. The design includes individual parking bays between Bosque Elm trees. A hand-crafted stone wall surrounds the area bringing the scale to a more private level.
The early collaboration of the clients and design team enabled Page to integrate the garden rooms so they flow seamlessly with the rooms of the home. As Page explains, “each interior room is reflected in an external relationship of garden rooms.”
While the photographs of the garden are beautiful and help to tell the story of the grounds, the plan must be studied to truly understand the grandeur and level of detail developed by Page in the full-scale design. Beginning with larger gestural spaces articulated by gateways, incredible lawns and sweeping walls, the plan transitions to more intimate gardens closer to the home that are exquisitely designed for each room of the house.
The homeowners were blessed with extraordinary craftsmen and materials. Aniana sandstone, endemic to North Georgia, was used throughout. All of the wrought iron is done by hand including the finials, rose arbor and gates.
The rear garden is centered on an axis that travels through a more intimate garden, then across the pool to a carefully crafted rear wall that looks like it could be in a European garden. An architectural fragment on the back wall is a nod to early French gardens where the fountain is the “moment” that starts the garden. The fountain flows down into a basin that empties into the spa. The pool, which overlooks the neighborhood, is coped in bluestone and serves as a favorite gathering area for entertaining. The ingenious way that the house is sited towards the center of the large property lends itself to plenty of entertaining areas. The terrace and lawn off the salon provide a favorite area for large parties.
Immediately adjacent to the family breakfast terrace is an intimate garden with an childlike angel or “putto” sculpture in the center. The garden is flanked by formal gardens with allées of pale purple Crape Myrtles. The trees, pleached and pollarded, are reminiscent of European gardens.
Page describes the planting palette as restrained with “quiet color,” which includes white, purples, lavenders, shades of blue and deep greens in the roses, hydrangeas and perennials. In the winter, the rich green palette of magnolia, boxwood, hollies and camellias gives a lush structure to the garden.
This elegant, grand-scale property uses European influences, formal and informal spaces and stunning details to create a beautiful haven for a young Nashville family. Multiple garden areas are perfectly suited to both intimate family time and grand-scale entertaining. The collaboration of the home and garden’s talented design team has resulted in a truly unique property which is, as Page explains, that “one continuous whole” that is a wonder to behold.
ABOUT THE LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT
Growing up in Tennessee, Ben Page of Page | Duke Landscape Architects gleaned knowledge of the land, natural systems and horticulture during a childhood spent on his grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ farms, long before he considered landscape architecture as a career. While he was pursuing a medical education with the intent of becoming a doctor, fate intervened and he discovered a passion for his chosen field. Specializing in residential landscape architecture, his work is richly detailed and often incorporates a deep combination of historical influences interpreted for the 21st century.
As his work has evolved, the influence of his farm roots has begun to assert itself more often, and he has become more involved in horse farm management, hunting plantation management and master planning for environmentally based communities. His work has been published nationally and featured on HGTV, and has received numerous awards.