After a winter that seemed to clutch us well beyond its time this year, the verdant beauty of spring in Virginia finally arrived just in time for our recent Historic Garden Week issue in April, which featured a tour of UVA’s pavilion gardens, and beautiful images by photographers Eric Kelley and Robert Llewellyn. No matter how long it lasts, I always know the churning drum of winter has truly ceased only when after months of quiet darkness, I suddenly begin to wake up each morning to the trumpeting sound of birdsong that infuses the woodland landscape where I live. It always seems to coincide at an orchestrated moment when the sun declares its ascendance and nature itself begins to celebrate.
In May, the fresh air continues. We’re featuring a recently completed wood and glass residence in Free Union—a spare, wood-clad, gabled form that shelters open-air space under a common roof with the interiors. Virginia’s distinct seasons don’t usually allow year-round outdoor living, but with this kind of clever design by Bushman Dreyfus Architects, going outside is celebrated despite the weather. A long wall of glass runs the length of the house providing continuous views into the site, but it is always protected from the weather by being set back deeply beneath the roof. This setback not only shades the glass but it prevents glare so the view can remain clear even when the sun is strong. And, subtle details like metal link chains falling into smooth river stone basins celebrate the simple profundity of moments like rainfall. Amplifying the sensory experience is one of the most important tasks of a designer, and when it acknowledges natural cycles, a poetic link is made between dwelling and nature.
Landscape Architect Anna Boeschenstein knows this well. She recently designed a garden for a house that literally seems to weave the architecture into the landscape. The interconnectedness of walls and buildings, plantings, boardwalks, and terraces are reminiscent of the unforgettable way one might navigate a hillside archeological site. Around each corner a vista is opened up, and a tapestry of visceral contrasts celebrate the character and patina of common materials used in incredibly beautiful ways.
Get outside this season, and look for ways to celebrate the simplest pleasures of the everyday.—Josh McCullar