This large, sloped, property overlooks the Mianus River Gorge Preserve, an extraordinary National History Landmark. The 1790 Dutch Colonial house perches atop a hillside overlooking an abundance of craggy granite, historic stonewalls and farmland.
The terraces and gardens are designed to complement the site: descending and meandering through levels with dining terraces, gardens, and seating areas for savoring select views. Stonewalls and steps lead from the highest porch through relaxed garden plantings, entertaining areas, and a fruit orchard. Thoughtful blending directs all elements of design: the house color was toned down from white to a neutral to complement the stone and plantings; lichen adorns the outdoor furniture; antique zinc and aged stone serve as garden pots.
The property restoration has been integrated with the house renovation over the past decade, with consistent goals: blend the house and gardens into the larger context of the Mianus Gorge; create a vibrant and enticing indoor-outdoor relationship; develop the land with a light touch in an environmentally-sensitive manner. The “gardened” areas are limited to immediately around the house, with outlying areas kept as meadows, woodland walks, and native wetlands. While not manicured, these areas are monitored with mowing schedules and consistent removal of invasive species.
Plant choices are influenced by the demands made on the environment; water usage, effectiveness as pollinators, and compatibility/context with the surrounding environment. Each year, lawn grass is reduced; soil is amended with property-generated compost; gardens are dressed with leaf mulch made on site.
When Storm Sandy destroyed the front property (fifteen, 50' Hemlock trees came down) the entire entrance was re-designed. The new stonewalls were all built from stone found on site.
INDIVIDUAL DESIGNER’S ROLE
Leslie Needham Design LLC designed the property Master Plan and managed all aspects of the installation.