Posts Tagged ‘landscape’

Gardens are most often designed to please the sense of sight.  Others are designed to satisfy our senses of smell, taste and touch. These things are relatively easy to accomplish. All it takes is a fragrant Lilac with showy blooms, or an herb garden filled with Oregano, Thyme and Catmint. The more difficult, and often forgotten, sense we need to embrace in garden design is hearing.

Sounds can invoke emotions just like color and texture.  Water is a common element that can easily be added to a landscape setting and it can range from a formal fountain to a bubbling stream.  A trickle of water evokes a more natural environment and can drown out unwanted noises in the medley of urban cacophony.

Wind chimes and garden bells range in materials from wood to metal to everything in between.  They can be of visual interest or melt into the background being heard but not seen.  Mostly dependent on wind or water movement to create sound, chimes and bells can be a gentle knocking of wood or a sharper tinny clang of metal.  Even with a slight breeze, chimes provide a relaxing point of interest to a plain garden.

Article written by lilyofthevalley for Jeffrey Erb Landscape Design

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In my travels over the course of this weekend, I found this simple  tropical planting combination outside of a new condo building. It follows basic rules of design and is simple enough that anyone can do it.  Placing the containers at the corner of the building helps soften hard edges of the structure while providing visual interest at the same time.  The main entrance to the lobby was located outside of the picture to the right, so the large scale of the planting keeps things in balance.

The container choice itself is brilliant in its subtlety.  The neutral dark charcoal color keeps the focus off the containers and allows the plants to make the statement. By using a lighter gray beach stone, the installer of these containers kept the palette similar but still interesting.  The stone size is also in correct proportion to the containers and plants. They all lend a tropical, summery feel to the entrance and also have an interesting color focus that isn’t found in the surrounding landscape.

Trio Of Palms

The only thing I would do differently with this combination is switch the position of the two smallest planters.  This would allow the purple foliage to be more in contrast with the light stone veneer of the wall while the silver-blue foliage of the fan palm would be highlighted by the dark background of the outside landscaping and porte-cochere.

Article and photography by lilyofthevalley for Jeffrey Erb Landscape Design

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Halloween weekend was the perfect time to visit Kykuit in Tarrytown, NY. This stunning estate was home to four generations of Rockefellers and was lived in by John D., Jr. and Nelson Rockefeller. Perched on the top of a meticulously landscaped hilltop, this home has sweeping views of the Hudson River and palisades. With an art collection full of Picasso, Calder and Matisse, this estate is full of wonderful surprises. The visitor’s center for this historic home is in Sleepy Hollow, and is an easy 45 minute drive north of New York City.

I do want to mention that Kykuit is part of the national trust as well as the Historic Hudson Valley organization. You can find more information at: www.preservationnation.org as well as www.hudsonvalley.org

William Welles Bosworth is the Architect responsible for the landscape design around the estate. Landscapes like this are few and far between in the U.S. John D. Rockefeller spent as much on the landscaping as he did on the actual house, and it shows. Bosworth worked under Frederick Law Olmsted (think Central Park) and many feel that the entrance garden of Kykuit is some of his best work in the country.

The gardens are divided into many outdoor rooms and there are plenty of walls, hedges and paths that guide you through the landscape. Bosworth studied in Paris, and the garden feels like a combination of Italian and English gardens as well. JDR JR. and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller loved classical art and modern art respectively. They are responsible for the Museum of Modern Art in New York City as well as the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum in Williamsburg, VA. Because of their love for artwork, the garden is full of sculptures. The entire East façade of the house is covered in Wisteria and I cannot wait to go back to see it in spring.

East Facade of Kykuit Covered in Wisteria

Entry Garden to Kykuit facing East

Pleached Alley of Hornbeams On the South Side of the House

Jeffrey Erb at Kykuit

Aphrodite's Temple on South Terrace

Teahouse on East Terrace

Chinese Lantern on East Terrace

West Terrace Hedging and Pergolas

West Terrace Eating Nook with Grotto in Background

Swimming Pool on West Terrace


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Fall is a tricky time for gardening. With cooler evenings, and more frequent rain, gardens tend to prepare themselves for winter while their owners continue tramping around in their sandals fearful to unpack their cool season sweaters. I see this every day walking around New York City; impatiens linger in forlorn planters while hardier vines fill in spots now left empty from earlier summer spectacles.  

The first day of that crisp autumn air always sets off my annual alarm that says it’s time for apple cider, spiced chai lattes, pumpkins, squash, and all things accompanied by the refreshing seasonal changes. Fall is also time to refresh you garden, and a few changes can add just enough zing to last your landscape through frost.

Try these simple tips:

  1. Add Lights for Evening. Temporary luminaries are terrific for outdoor events, while solar lights are a more environmentally friendly long term option.
  2. Have fun! Don’t take the garden so seriously. Enjoy the harvest and all things bountiful, mix it up a little and add color or seasonal interest where you may not do so for the rest of the season.
  3. Look for contrasting foliage instead of short lived blooms as a backdrop for the garden (leave the mums behind)
  4. Paint a snow scene without using the white paint. Can you paint a fall scene without the typical hues of yellow orange and red? Consider an alternative pallette with rich burgundy, brown and olive. Or how about pink and lime green. Think of ways to translate this into your plantings, and outdoor accessories. 
  5. Skip the flowers and go straight for the berries. Callicarpa americana (Beautyberry) is a personal favorite, and is readily accessible garden centers.


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Welcome to the blog for Jeffrey Erb Landscape Design. I own and operate a full service landscape design and installation company based in New York City that focuses on rooftop/terrace gardens, green roofs, and back yard landscapes. Urban gardening is a passion of mine, and I find great satisfaction in making the most out of small spaces. Transforming a blank space into a stunning garden is nothing short of exhilerating.

This blog is a place for me to express my viewpoint as a designer, and to review good and bad landscape designs throughout Manhattan. No doubt, I will be sharing tons of advice and tips to maximize outdoor spaces in the city (and beyond). I also invite questions, comments, and opinions from my readers. After all, this is a two way conversation. Join me as I post video shorts, articles, products, and images that will help you get to know who I am, and why I am inspired and energized by the work that I do. Here’s to brilliant seasonal plantings, unexpected garden designs, and to reducing the number of plastic lawn ornaments in the world!


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