Big Bluff

Prominently located on the coast of East Chop, Martha’s Vineyard, Big Bluff boasts big views due east towards the Nantucket Sound. Separated by a lightly trafficked neighborhood avenue, the residence is comprised of two buildings: a main house directly adjacent to the shore, and a guest house to the rear. As a result, the primary objective for the design of the landscape was to develop a language that would unify the two parcels.

To achieve this design objective, a repeating pattern is introduced utilizing bluestone steppers, where the edges of each stone are pushed and pulled, akin to the movement of waves. A single path featuring this pattern extends through the entire landscape, from the coastal front yard to the guest house in the rear. Reinforcing this connection are two nearly identical arbors in character with the architecture, each providing a gateway between the houses.

Maintaining the use of a natural materials palette, a unique feature of the landscape is a custom bicycle stand that carves out large notches in a single stone to rest and support tires within. At the front of the property, a select few openings in the native viburnum hedge allow for physical and visual connectivity to the ocean beyond. The hedge goes on to encompass a flagpole, standing proud at the northernmost point of the property.

Katama Plains

Located on the south side of Martha’s Vineyard, just to the north of South Beach within the native sandplain grasslands of Katama, this property was comprised of two previously developed residential lots. The project sought to redevelop the property, joining the two lots to create a family compound, while preserving and restoring native endangered habitat.

The design for the compound focused on maximizing views to the ocean. The buildings and the landscape were designed to work closely together and are oriented to take advantage of the southern ocean views. The family is active outdoors and requested a program that includes: a cutting garden; vegetable garden with compost bin; outdoor kitchen and pergola; pool house; bocce court; and 70-foot shallow swimming pool and spa.

Even as the active use area was designed to accommodate the program and maximize views, the true challenge was conceiving of a scheme also sensitive to the existing sandplain grasslands. After careful study and working with regulatory agencies and local specialists, a plan was developed and implemented that converted existing lawn areas into thriving native grasslands.

The Field Club

South of Edgartown, an abandoned gravel pit existed on the glacially formed Katama outwash plain. The pit had been mined for years to a depth in excess of fifty feet and had most recently been used a dump for construction debris. These combined events created a 25-acre site, devoid of vegetation, which was in stark contrast to the surrounding native scrub-oak and pine forest and Edgartown’s iconic tree lined streets and privet hedges close by.

The plan for the reuse of the site as a residential neighborhood with a private club at its core was developed. The Field Club, as it came to be known, includes a compliment of recreation amenities including clay and championship lawn tennis courts, lap pool and beach entry swimming facilities, and a bocce court and bowling green. The landscape plan drew inspiration from Edgartown’s streetscape with clipped hedges accented with boxwood, hydrangea, rose, and clematis.

Cape Cod Retreat

This narrow oceanfront property is located within a historic community on Cape Cod. The original 1930s shingle-style house and property underwent an extensive renovation, transforming the existing landscape to accommodate a gracious entry sequence and a generous program. This was accomplished while preserving the estate-like character, expansive ocean views, and the fragile ecosystem of the coastal dunes.

Today, the site’s identity is enhanced by a gradient planting scheme that progresses through the site. This begins at the entry with rhododendron and evergreen trees, which reflect the established character of the neighborhood and provide privacy. At the house, privet hedges and a grass lawn panel define the arrival court, while beach grass and native shrubs stabilize the dunes.

At the rear of the home, the pool and spa, a dining terrace, and lawn provide casual and inviting options. A pergola, enhanced with climbing roses, offers choices for seating and an unobstructed view of Nantucket Sound. The completed landscape balances the young family’s desire to have an intimate year-round retreat as well as the ability to host large gatherings during the summer.

Oak Groves

Situated on the northwest coast of Martha’s Vineyard, this property overlooks the Vineyard Sound. The rural landscape is defined by standing scrub oak groves and ledge outcroppings, which were preserved throughout construction. The drive winds through indigenous plantings to arrive at an informal pea stone auto court where a feature oak helps frame a glimpse to the water beyond. Working closely with the architect, a new house was sited to optimize views to the sound while integrating an existing guesthouse and pool within the new landscape.

Dry-stacked, rounded fieldstone walls reference the agrarian character found “up island” and serves to terrace the land for improved grade and circulation.  A circular mosaic terrace with broken edges intersects the pool in a gesture that strengthens the geometric connection between the pool, walkway with stairs, and main residence. Hydrangea, perennials, and grasses provide color during the summer months while native grasses and lowbush blueberry soften the edges of the property by forming a naturalistic border between the built and native landscape.