Just like a list of chosen words is not a poem, a collection of plants is not a landscape. The merit is in the design, which like the best of poems, makes ordinary material significant by its sheer arrangement.
Erasing the boundary between the inside and outside and making small spaces feel expansive, comes quite naturally to Los Angeles based renowned landscape designer, Scott Shrader. Having nailed these two aspects to the T, he promises to take every outdoor space from the ordinary to the extraordinary. Around southern California, he is known for civilised, amenity filled gardens, tailor-made for life outside.
Shrader specialises in designing the outdoor room. His spaces are always a link to the house. Lush and sheltered, his designs feel timeless, melding elements of history along with a deep sense of the land. Scott’s gardens are inviting and they get used, which he reminds, is the reason for their being.
A visit to France instantly introduces you to a world which is intentionally or otherwise focused on sensory pleasure. Scott Shrader’s modern French garden is a complete case in point of this notion. His design not only strives to reduce complexity but also manages to create an illusion of simplicity. Totally French inspired with a mixed palette of stone, wood and metal, this piece of land planted by Scott goes all out to impress you with its unique gardening style.
It does seem beautifully paradoxical that Shrader’s signature garden boasts not a single blade of grass. “When it comes to the front yard, a manicured lawn isn’t the only way to go. In fact grass maybe your least interesting option,” says Shrader. “They’ve been out of fashion for over 25 years, in my opinion,” he says. “The fertiliser, the water, the mowing – all that energy goes into a green patch that isn’t really doing much aesthetically.” Instead Scott shares, that he sees the front yard as a chance to set a distinct tone to the property. “Your house doesn’t start at the front door – it starts at the street,” he says.
Using hedges as starting points of crisp green backdrops, a geometric plan is employed with utmost symmetry. The vivid blocks of green make a bold statement as they ignite a light of beauty that plays over the symmetry of things rather than the symmetry itself. Shrader shares, “I don’t have space or time for anything fussy, so I use container plants, not flowers for accents.”
Like every French garden, the focus of the design is the house. Close to the house, planting is kept low and tends to consist of clipped boxed hedges that line and define.
Making the grounds a destination, Scott tells us that, “Grass may not warrant a second look. This garden is meant to stop you.” The use of Del Rio gravel on paths that grid across the yard highlights the symmetrical garden plan.
For the front yard of this French – Normandy styled house, Shrader found inspiration in the homeowner’s extensive art collection. A neatly chiselled wooden bench flaunts perfect straight lines as elegant as a piece of sculpture. A graphic layout of boxwoods, surrounded by evergreen pear trees, dotted by soft lighting makes the space come alive. The effect is as striking when viewed from above as it is while ambling on its paths. Wandering down the stone embedded
path that beckons like an impatient child you reach a stone water body that transports you to a different era – a world hallmarked by liberty and tradition, innately French in its character that lends the corner a bit of history.
Shrader’s outdoor haunts are as stunning as they are responsible. His reliance on permeable gravel and stones in lieu of lawns encourages drainage and prevents run off. To that end, he utilises unique appointments that otherwise would have been tossed aside at a construction zone. Century old pavers of the perfect grey hue are reintroduced by Shrader to bring in the traditional French flavour under the shadow of modern stone.
Scott tells us, “Environmentally sensitive restrictions in native plantings and hardscaping do have their tonal challenges. My practice is different from interior design. I mean, Mother Nature’s palette is not unlimited!” That said, his experiments don’t seize on a particular note as he contrasts the softness of the leaves to the roughness of the gravel and creates a distinction with a definite energy.
Shrader’s modern French garden is an evergreen piece of landscape where everything seems to be in place. Apart from powerful symmetry that dominates the look it also has something else – something more intangible. It has style. Rather than an overwhelming riot of colour and plantings, Scott has nurtured a sense of order even in the most natural of settings through a one-of-a-kind arrangement of living symmetry.
Text By Kanupriya Pachisia
Photographs Courtesy Mark Adams Pictures