A Homeowner’s Love of Roses Inspires a Landscape Design

March 26, 2024

A passion for heirloom blooms and a fairy-tale-like setting inspire a landscape team’s award-winning vision.

Text by Tovah Martin    Photography by Neil Landino

When Janice Parker’s Connecticut client arrived at their first consultation toting rose catalogs covered with Post-it notes, the landscape architect knew she was in for a unique adventure of aromatic proportions.

Parker also knew she would need backup. Along with infinite opportunities to showcase her client’s favorite flower, the twenty-two acres would require a series of terraces leading from the house to a lake. Fortunately, this country’s foremost rosarian is on Parker’s speed dial.

Not only did Parker need Stephen Scanniello’s expertise in selecting roses beyond your typical go-to list, but she also needed his help crafting a detailed maintenance schedule. “To get something potent, you have to be married to a rose garden,” she explains. While Parker, along with senior project manager Ann Schmitt, focused on earth moving, view framing, and transforming a tennis court into a vegetable garden, she could rest assured that the rose-related agenda was in good hands.

Meanwhile, architect Ralph Mackin and the builders at Hobbs were designing a chateau-like home and several outbuildings, including a pavilion, potting shed, and boathouse, all located at the end of a long driveway that swoops in from the road. Parker was tasked with tying all the elements together with a landscape that also respected the earth.

“A whole lot of civil engineering was necessary to protect the soil and land,” she says of the design that won a 2024 ASLA Connecticut Landscape Architecture Design Merit Award. “With a landscape, everything is an investment in the future.” Meticulous attention to infinite detail was the rule, from the pillowy grass beds that hem the gravel paths to the overarching trees that set the dreamy mood.

To weave the roses into the overall scheme, Parker first had to ensure the soil stayed in place on a steep grade. To help achieve that, she installed golden spiraea Ogon and two varieties of Lo & Behold butterfly bush (Blue Chip and Purple Haze) in a diamond pattern. Her tried-and-true Little Lamb hydrangea billow around the foundation of the house. To soften a semicircular wall, she planted lacy Japanese maples in front of Ludwig Spaeth and Président Grévy lilacs, which perfume the air to nearly intoxicating levels in spring. Yew hedging outlines spaces, underscores formality, and works in conjunction with the deer fencing.

As for the roses, the homeowner’s wish list included ultra-aromatic David Austin and heirloom varieties that Scanniello, curator of the New York Botanical Garden’s Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden and consultant for the rose garden at the Elizabeth Park Conservancy in West Hartford, knew well. Rather than typical color blocks, the rosarian was asked to take a confetti approach. Heritage, The Shepherdess, The Lark Ascending, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and Princess Alexandra of Kent all waltz together to create a vision that reads like an impressionist painting. “Savvy selection to fulfill a function in the landscape is the first step to success,” Scanniello says.

Roses may reign around the house, but the rest of the acreage is informal and populated by blowsy little bluestem and other ornamental grasses. It’s all part of a harmonious, sumptuous scene that illustrates Parker’s modus operandi:

“Everything wants to be singing the same song.”

Project Team
Landscape design: Janice Parker Landscape Architects
Architecture: Mackin Architects
Builder: Hobbs
Interior design: Mark Hampton

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