About J A L A

About J A L A.

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Junior League Tour of Fine Spaces

Junior League Tour of Fine Spaces

This year we were a part of the Winston Salem Junior League’s Tour of Fine Spaces.  Ours was the first garden on the tour and I am pleased to say we had a great showing; of the 200 to 300 expected per house, 348 people visited ours.   Foothills Brewery joined us serving up samples of their tasty draughts and delightful nibbles.

This was a great opportunity to put into place what we profess: designing the home and gardens as a singular composition.

Teaming up with Emily Taft Interiors we renovated the family room and show cased the dining room she did for us last year.   The first item we addressed in the Family Room was the treatment to the existing Wormy Chestnut paneling.  We wanted to be sensitive to the wood as it is an extinct species you see in many older Winston Salem homes. The walls were sanded down and rubbed with a watered down grey solid stain.  A satin seal coat was applied to protect the stain creating a patina that compliments the natural color of the wood creating a dynamic color range as the light changes throughout the day.

Emily along with master carpenter Phil Doby designed a classic mantle surround framing the entertainment system.  The mantle was painted white to act as a focal point to the room.  An elongated subway tile and marble hearth in the same color round out the fireplace.   Artfully hung paintings my wife has collected over the years are throughout.  The Adrianne Anderson paintings got rave reviews.  Emily’s use of texture, color, scale and form create a series of unique rooms that blend together seamlessly.   An expansive lawn provides a large area for the kids to play.

I designed the gardens as a series of outdoor spaces.  The front yard is composed of boxwood specimens, boxwood and gardenia hedges, an expansive sweep of lawn, seasonal plantings of hydrangeas, catmint, roses, azaleas and dogwoods.    Once you enter the front door an axial view to the pond with a 24” sphere by Pennoyer Newman greets you and draws you into the family room.  As you approach the back windows the Potager unfolds, you begin to see the tree house and the remaining back gardens.

Many visitors were drawn to the back porch to get a closer look.   Some were compelled to climb into the tree house and one brought her son back to try out the zip line.   The tree house is tucked into the side of an old Magnolia with a series of catwalks, platforms and ladders to scramble on.   A zip line traverses the garden beyond the pond from the tree house down to the back corner of the yard.

As you explore the backyard you discover there is something for everyone.  Seating for two in the Potager with the fire pit is a cozy spot and the sound of the fountains in the background emanating from the pond relaxing.  An armillary rests centrally in the garden and gravel paths entice one to explore the gardens and discover on cross axis a Pennoyer Newman urn that leads you across the yard to the rustic outdoor kitchen.   The Potager provides lettuces, herbs, strawberries and blueberries early in the season and tomatoes and peppers as we move into summer.   I am delighted as our children eat directly from the garden making a closer connection to the earth and discover how some food is grown.

For pictures, go the link to our Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/pages/JALA-LLC-Jeff-Allen-Landscape-Architecture/359992031975

Junior League Tour of Fine Homes

We are excited to be a part of this year’s Winston Salem Junior League Tour of Fine Homes.  Ours will be the first garden on the tour.  We teamed up with Emily Taft Interiors and Foothills Brewery.  Come see us March 24th from 10 till 4 for the show and have a beer!   Tickets available through June Delugas Interiors.

Garden Notebook January/February

Winterberry Holly

Winter conjures images of a grey bleak landscape.   The growing season has come to an end and our garden lush with green foliage, blooms, fruit and vegetables have long faded into the brilliant color of fall and further into fond memories where one usually thinks of hunkering down for the winter.   Stored are the mowers, wheelbarrows, blowers, trimmers, trowels and shovels as we start fires, brew tea, simmer stew and bundle up for winter.  I view winter like I do spring where I study plants that offer interest the season holds. For example, dried mop heads of hydrangea blossoms, berries on holly, fragrance from witch-hazel in flower or the discovery of forgotten bulbs poking through the ground in anticipation of spring.

Daffodils growing through English Ivy

Hellebore Bloom January in my Garden

This time of year is a good time for reflection in the garden as well as planning for the next growing season.  I start with evaluating the garden with a critical eye;  looking for gaps in planting beds that need filling, removing dead wood and pruning back shrubs and trees for thinning and shaping; thriving on the successes and learning from the failures the prior season held.

Another important aspect of the garden that is often overlooked is the structure of the garden.   Often referred to as the skeleton, structure is what gives your garden definition, character, and strength. Whether it is an evergreen hedge or groundcover, a paved terrace or arbor, a stone wall or wood fence, these elements provide the backdrop for a flower bed, screen unwanted views, provide privacy, create open spaces or intimate sitting areas, anchor the ground-plane and are the backbone to the garden in winter.  After all the leaves have fallen and cleared away these structures are what hold the garden together.

A Simple Foundation Planting

A Gate Arbor

Whereas many people find January and February uneventful times in the garden, I am scurrying around with transplanting’s, pruning, mulching, fertilizing, weeding, infill planting and detailing.    I love the crisp air and am inspired to keep in motion to stay warm and work up a hearty appetite.   It is a great time to start a new garden or renew an older one.

This year is special for me as we are building a new garden to be shown in the Winston Salem Junior League’s Tour of Homes.  We are honored and excited as this will be the first garden in the tour.    Wish us luck and more importantly good weather!

JALA Garden Progress

Here’s to winter work setting the stage for a beautiful growing season. Cheers and Happy Gardening!

Evolution of a Garden

“The necessarily ephemeral nature of the art of garden-making is its most alluring charm.  Just as an individual flower, so the garden blooms, fades, and if not renewed, becomes a memory.”   Myron Hunt, California Gardens, 1931

Much of our recent work has been improvements to established gardens.  Often we are asked to update a landscape that is overgrown, fill in a bare area, design a new driveway or provide curb appeal.  This garden started with a Master Plan that addressed replacing a driveway, definition of entrance to the property, foundation and general planting improvements and addressing how to scale down the blank façade of an existing garage.

Pyracantha Espalier

We were very excited to implement some unique classical design elements.  Our first task was to address a blank wall on a garage.   As part of the design process, we studied installing commercially available espaliered plantings such as Camellias or Pyracantha; we also entertained  another more architectural solution of constructing a lattice panel onto the building and then begin the process of training vines onto the lattice.

Neither of these options appealed to our client’s taste, so we suggested something a little more unique; an espaliered apple tree.   We worked with River Road Farms out of Decatur, Tennessee.  They helped guide us with the different options of designs, sizes and varieties of apples they grew.  It was a great working relationship.

After some debate, we decided to  install a 12’ section of  Belgian Fence  grown from Crabapple trees.    It was a process to install as each plant had to be carefully placed to the proper height and distance as well as getting the limbs  positioned in order to overlap and create the diamond shape pattern of the design.   The trees were planted  30″ away from the building to allow room for painting and any repairs needed.   Horizontal structural cables are slated to be installed behind the trees to allow for proper growth and development.

The Belgian Fence has proven to be a good choice as it combines the architectural structure of a trellis, year round seasonal interest plus a focal point that functions as intended to scale down the blank wall on the garage.

River Road Farms Belgian Fence Crabapple Onsite

A River Road Farms Espaliered Apple Tree

River Road Farms Belgian Fence Drawing

Espaliered Crabapples Installed

Our second task was to upgrade a portion of the foundation planting.   We found the existing plantings overgrown with a large bare area between the existing plantings and front walk.  A simplified approach to the planting along the base of the house was used by selective plant removals, transplanting the English Boxwoods and installing an informal boxwood parterre with a simple planting of Annabelle Hydrangeas.

Transplanting existing English Boxwoods

Boxwoods Transplanted with 20" English Boxwood Hedge Installed. Laying out hydrangeas for planting.

The new design creates a pleasing composition along the front foundation unifying the old with the new.  The existing larger English boxwoods were strategically located to anchor the architecture and provide screening of undesirable mechanical equipment.  Smaller boxwoods were employed to fill the gaps between the larger boxwoods and as a low hedge in front of the hydrangeas creating a seamless foundation planting.

A Boxwood Foundation Planting Parterre

I find designing and constructing gardens a metaphor to gardening it-self.   There is inspiration, effort, nurturing, frustration, revision and reassurance along the way and like all great gardens, reward!

Our next task, the driveway….

By: Jeff Allen

The Art of the Master Plan

Master Plan by JALA for residence in Winston-Salem, NC

So often it is hard for people to understand what exactly a Landscape Architect is.  Are we architects, engineers, landscapers, horticulturists, artists, sociologists, historians?  Landscape Architecture encompasses all of these and more.  To simply focus on one dimension sells the profession much too short.  Understanding that it is truly dynamic and multi-disciplined is the beginning of seeing and enjoying the fine art of Landscape Architecture.

It is extremely important for all of the connected facets of the profession to be just that, connected.  This connection is what brings fluidity to our spaces.  Whether they are public parks, a downtown corridor, or a private garden, it is vital to look at each site and all of the components that make it more than functional, but rather an extension of our life.  A good design contributes more than top-dollar materials or flashy components.  It reveals the true nature of those who immerse themselves in it, all the while fitting seamlessly in place.

Vaux-le Vicomte designed by Andre Le Notre

Historically, names such as Le Notre, Capability Brown, Jefferson, and Olmsted were masters of weaving all of the mentioned components together to form timeless spaces that we still observe with awe.  There is no denying that it is truly an art to be able to site a grand manor or palace in such a way that it was as if the earth had been waiting for such a building.

Hill Property designed by Frederick Law Olmsted

Alternative design for the Straight Residence by Beatrix Farrand

This core intellect still holds true today.  As designers, we must incorporate all of the disciplines as we put dreams and ideas into reality.  It is futile to only focus on aesthetics.  Can it actually work?  In the same regard, if focusing only on the engineering, can it be enjoyed?  Bringing together the different aspects all into focus helps create a space that we hope is meaningful and timeless.

How is this done?  Having a well thought out framework or guide is the starting point.  The Master Plan is the chance to put thoughts to paper.  Although the design may not be implemented fully at once, the master plan allows for cohesiveness no matter when parts and pieces are developed.  This cohesiveness is what sets a space apart from being more than an addition or an afterthought.  It allows the designer to explore how elements are connected or what gives them meaning.  Is there a need for a wall? Why and how can it be used beyond functionality so it looks purposeful?  Clearly it is important to understand the site and exploring the site in person is the best way to do that.  However, it is even more important to step back and let what you have discovered soak in.  Engulfing yourself into a master plan allows for the site to come alive on paper and to be captured just as it was imaged standing from the apex of a beautiful vista.  It allows us to pass the intentions on to the craftsmen.  Again, the master plan acts as a beautiful framework for which all of the decisions are made.

Design for Rynwood (Glen Head, N.Y.) by Ellen Biddle Shipman

It is true to say that the hand is the extension of the mind and soul.  In a world that is more and more technology driven, to us it is important to continue to be organic in our design.  Pencil to paper allows our thoughts to be tangible.  Efficiency is still important, but there is something about having to draw a line and connect it with another that allows the mind to slow down just enough to think through the purpose of that line.  As textures are added, you begin to understand the feel and look of your design.  Each layer of the drawing provides another chance for thought and creativity to sneak onto the paper.

Beyond the cognitive importance of a hand drawn concept for the designer, the master plan has a chance to become a work of art.  From the subtle smudges of eraser marks to the emphasized line work of the finished product, the thought process is revealed to any observer and becomes much more personal.  Ownership is taken and those who view it can say, “That is an Olmsted drawing”.  Just like the finished product that can be labeled a design by the Architect or the work of the craftsman, the master plan is another chance to put the personal stamp on a design that truly says, “Here are my thoughts, here is my vision.”

written by: Brent Skelton

Master Plan for the Waugh Residence (Scarsdale, N.Y.) by Loutrel Briggs