In the far reaches of southern Chester County, a couple has created a little slice of paradise for their family. Tucked among farmland and fields, the six-acre property is the perfect antidote to their demanding careers. Much like their interests, their home and its surroundings are a blend of architectural and natural inspiration, with a focus on a refined but relaxed lifestyle.
The owners carefully restored their 19th-century stone farmhouse, matching colors with precision. For an elegant outdoor space, they turned to Nathan Tuno of Roots Landscape in Wayne. “[The owner] really wanted to make sure that it was true to the character of the house, but it still has a modern look to it,” says Tuno of the landscaping, which appears original to the historic estate. “It feels like you’ve stepped back in time.”
When the couple tapped Tuno, there was very little landscaping in place, with the exception of a spacious parterre garden. Much the same way an interior designer would approach a home, he envisioned outdoor “rooms” with distinctive features. Driving up to the house and carriage home, visitors are greeted by a newly spruced-up version of the original garden. “It’s a nice welcoming pad for you to see the space,” he says.
A 12-foot walkway, its blond and peach hues matching the house, offers a sweeping entryway akin to a foyer. From there, guests can head inside or to an outdoor dining area where four sycamores provide shade and intimacy. This natural pergola of sorts “softens the house,” says Tuno.
An outdoor table is neatly set on decomposed granite and lined with potted plants that change with the seasons. In a nearby sitting area, a view of the farm and fields beyond is framed by wisteria, much like looking out a window.
The owners are frequent travelers—to Ibiza, in particular. So it’s no surprise that the outdoor spaces are infused with European flair. The pervasive use of decomposed granite lends a “provincial” feel, says Tuno. “It’s simple, classic, and more about texture and feel.”
Again pairing European elegance with functionality, Tuno planted espalier trees, which are trained to grow flat, forming a sort of trellis. Once popular on historic estates, they can be found in several places on the property, including the driveway. Elsewhere, a kiwi tree and espalier trees bear fruit. The owner uses the fruit for cooking.
The trees attract pollinators—something the owner wanted. Mindful of that fact, Tuno added further enticement for bees and butterflies, scattering salvia, hydrangeas, peonies and anemones throughout the landscape.
For maximum effect, the owners chose to position their pool at a higher elevation. Thanks to fieldstone walls and carefully thought out landscaping, the area has its own personality while still connecting to the home and the rest of the landscape. “[The pool] feels very natural, like it was supposed to be here,” says Tuno.
Stairs leading to the pool are planted with ajuga, Russian sage and other sedums—an unusual touch that implies longevity and lends beauty to functionality. “It’s a way of greening a space that normally doesn’t see any green,” says Tuno.
With its various plantings, including allium and Tiger Eyes sumac, the pool is a private oasis where the owners relax on chaise lounges and enjoy the surrounding views. “We tried a push-and-pull of very organic, very whimsical and fun, with this calming, simple look of bluestone and sod,” says Tuno of the materials used on and around the pool.
Everywhere, it seems, foliage is used creatively to spark year-round interest. “If something’s going away, something else is blooming,” Tuno says.