SLPC: What was your inspiration for the design of the idea house gardens?
DB: The context of Mt. Laurel and the house itself drove the design for the gardens. My family has lived in Mt. Laurel since 2003, so we’ve literally lived and breathed the nature-inspired aesthetic there. Bill Ingram designed a stunning house that includes a wrap-around front porch, which really taps into the outdoor living that takes place in the community. I used the colors on the house as inspiration for the selection of the pavers we used for the patio, walkways, and driveway. The primary goals for the gardens were to support the intentions of Bill’s architecture, while integrating them into the natural surroundings of the neighborhood.
SLPC: Why did you choose SLPC plants (other than the obvious!) for primary roles in the design?
DB: The Southern Living® Plant Collection includes a lot of plants I consider to be Southern heritage plants. However, many of them offer the benefit of having slight twists on what people are accustomed to seeing. The majority of my projects are for residential clients, so I make a conscientious effort to bring plants to the table you don’t typically find in a commercial setting. Southern Living® Plant Collection, and by extension the Southern Living® Idea House, offers many unique cultivars that will give viewers new and fresh ideas to incorporate into their gardens.
SLPC: What are your favorite plants in the design and why?
DB: Several of my favorites that we used include ‘Meerlo’ Lavender for its interesting variegated foliage; ‘Design-a-Line’ Cordyline for its striking burgundy color and unique habit; and ‘Soft Caress’ Mahonia for its texture and because it serves as a graceful addition to a shade garden.
SLPC: Please explain the benefits of your design.
DB: On a macro scale, it’s a four-season design in that something interesting will always be happening in the landscape. On a micro scale, there are several primary garden areas, and I compartmentalized the plants to suit the different spaces. There are native plants that integrate into and extend from a wooded area that we preserved; there are multiple colors, textures and fragrances that surround an outdoor room, which features a paver patio and fire pit; and there are shade-loving plants that border a pea gravel walkway that weaves through a more intimate space called the Secret Garden.
SLPC: Any tips for homeowners that don’t have the benefit of a professional, but want a pleasing landscape?
DB: One of the beauties (and challenges!) in landscape design is that it’s always in flux. So, choose materials that are of quality and will last, and select plants not for their present size, but rather the size they will become. Develop a master plan on the front end and then use it as your guide. Most importantly, have fun with it!