Balancing Act

Award-Winning Landscape Firm Offers Artful Symmetry



In their new book, aptly titled The Landscape Designs of Doyle Herman Design Associates, James Doyle and Kathryn Herman highlight the breadth of their firm’s talent and versatility. The beautifully illustrated compendium features structured plantings to impressionistic meadows, so you can enjoy lush green landscapes even as the snow falls. And turns out, the time to start planning your spring project is now!

Co-principals Doyle and Herman share the inside scoop.

athome: How did you choose the projects for this book?
Kathryn Herman: We wanted to show breadth; there’s traditional to modern, large to small, natural and rural. There is one from overseas in Dublin, Ireland. It’s not very large, but it’s rich with architecture. We had to work around a large Georgian wall, for example. The goal was to incorporate these traditional details into a modern scheme.

athome: Your book description notes that the projects feature “geometry and symmetry.” How is this achieved in different styles?
JD: We take a simple and clean approach to each project. Structure in the garden is important, but it may not be true for all projects, as the style is dictated by the natural surroundings and the architecture of the home.
KH: Both traditional and modern styles have symmetry and geometry. Our work is orderly. It has to make sense in a subtle way. We use a lot of structure—hedges, repeating boxwoods, an allée of trees. There’s nothing worse than a property that can be taken in with one turn of the head. We create a series of spaces and garden rooms. It’s about the experience.

athome: How do you balance art and geometry in your designs?
JD: It’s usually dictated by the architecture of the house. We play off the details and always relate the plantings back to the home. Layouts can relate to facades, doors, windows, etc., and that allows us to set up vistas and focal points. ‘Art’ is about always being creative with those elements.
KH: For one project, we used plant material intended for hedging and made it pyramidal. In another, we added purple beach hedging in three sinuous lines. It was more of an art project than a functional hedge.

athome: What landscaping do you suggest in the Fall/Winter? Is it a good time to plan a project?
JD: Using the winter months to detail design is always good, so that we are geared up to allow installations in the spring. Fall is also a good planting season.
KH: We love furnishings for our properties, which takes time to plan and order. Plus getting the permitting and approval process done ahead of time is great, so we’re ready to go when the weather is nice.

athome: What are your favorite projects included in the book?
JD: I like that some quite small projects are included. That was important to us so that we could let people know that we do all size projects as long as we are allowed to be creative.
KH: It’s like asking a mother to choose her favorite child! But the ones that are most gratifying for us are when the client is really happy.

athome: Congrats on your new California location! How are your projects there similar or different from East Coast ones?
KH: The way they differ is the plant material as the climate is different, but we still apply our signature plant rooms and structure. There’s a lot of open-mindedness about modern design in LA, but plenty of traditional projects to be done as well.

athome: What’s next for you in 2014? Are there any projects you’re really looking forward to?
JD: We are busy with lots of projects and they are all exciting and challenging for different reasons. We just started a project on Lake Como, Italy.
KH: It’s really great when what you’ve drawn on paper comes into reality.

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