Next month, I am headed to Miami for the national convention for The American Institute of Architects. I always leave the convention inspired on many levels. Whether it is new sustainable products, great speakers, or tours of amazing buildings I always find useful information to bring back to my practice. This year I hope to experience some gardens designed by one of my favorite landscape architects, Raymond Jungles, http://www.raymondjungles.com/ There are many lessons to be learned from Jungles' gardens that are applicable here in the lowcountry. Jungles says that your garden must make a statement; be dramatic yet inviting. He accomplishes this through the layering of spaces, walls, light plants, color, sound, and fragrance.
Jungles explains that the entrance to the property is critical to the entire design. Typically the entry path is very controlled with view snapshots that create anticipation for the rest of the garden. In some of my favorite designs the garden path is floating slabs of concrete in reflecting pools.
The selection of plants is critical. While we are not in a tropical zone, our semi-tropical zone plants include many of the sculptural plants that do not need pruning that Jungles likes. Place the plants with dramatic foliage where their shadows can create interesting patterns. He also advises to design for the "insufficient maintenance" that most homeowners deliver. Select hardy indigenous ground covers and grasses to reduce the amount of watering and maintenance.
Most of Jungles' gardens include a water element. Whether it is a swimming pool with a fountain or a fountain with a reflecting pool, a cool oasis with the sound of moving water is a welcome relief in our hot humid climate. Jungles recommends in a flat landscape like ours to take advantage of the drama of the sky. In small gardens, a reflecting pool can capture the clouds. If you are fortunate to have a long view, allow glimpses of the view as you progress through the garden before opening up to the entire view.