Thomas Woltz’s work was recently honored at the inaugural John Russell Pope Awards, hosted by the ICAA’s Washington Mid Atlantic Chapter on April 17, 2015. Thomas has devoted 16 years to creating the spectacular gardens at Seven Ponds Farm in Albemarle County, Virginia. On this 140-acre site, Thomas re-introduced rare plant species that are native to Virginia and expanded water systems to enhance animal habitats. He has always stressed the importance of creating the “highest level of biodiversity.” Seven Ponds Farm is an exquisite demonstration of the cross-section between science and high art.
Raised on a family farm at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, Thomas had a connection to the land from a young age. His designs demonstrate his commitment to sustainable agriculture, wildlife conservation, and supporting indigenous soil, plants, and water. His primary goal is to create a healthy environment, which in turn, leads to a more beautiful landscape. Thomas’s upcoming projects include designing the eight-acre garden at Hudson Yards in Manhattan, and redefining the landscape park at Olana. We are thrilled to have Thomas in the ICAA family and look forward to seeing the impact of his innovative and sustainable design philosophy spread.
Recently, our New York Chapter-in-formation invited top British garden designer Arne Maynard to be the featured speaker at The Century Club on April 8, 2015. His fascinating lecture kept all 200 attendees in rapt attention. Arne described the collaborative process he uses to design a garden, which begins with carefully studying the history and environment of a place, including the main house, before beginning his plans. He described how he prefers for guests to arrive through garden spaces to a home’s front entrance. Therefore, he eliminates car parks directly in front of homes, as they obstruct the landscape and negatively impact the views from the interior spaces. He takes pride in doing plantings that fit within the landscape, taking care not to alter the landscape drastically, to maintain a natural element to his designs. Everyone at the lecture was inspired by the beautiful photos of his work and his own garden, Allt-y-bela in Wales, as well as by hearing how he incorporates the land’s natural elements into his designs.
These successful efforts came in the wake of a wonderful national series of lectures and book signings last year by ICAA Board Member Kathryn Herman and James Doyle. The 2014 Stanford White Award winners’ monograph, The Landscape Designs of Doyle Herman Design Associates, highlights the firm’s award-winning work and renowned sense of restraint and purpose.
The ICAA is proud to recognize these talented individuals and their positive impact on the way we live. Gardening and landscape architecture are an important part of the ICAA’s mission, and we look forward to offering more lectures, garden tours, and featured articles in the coming months and years. For me, Beatrix Farrand is one of the most inspirational landscape designers, and her gardens at Dumbarton Oaks, Bellefield in Hyde Park, and The Mount are some of my favorite exterior spaces. I would love to hear about your favorite gardens and the landscape architects who inspire you. Please share your thoughts in the comments below!