Large volcanic stones, cascading pools and naturalistic planting form a crisp contemporary garden carved into a hillside in Luxembourg
Volcanic stones, cascading pools and naturalistic planting.
DESIGNER PROFILE Peter Berg and his business partner, Susanne Förster, founded their landscape design company, Gartenlandschaft in Sinzig, Germany, in 2000. They have since won many awards in Germany and neighbouring countries for their naturalistic, modern schemes. Peter is also the author of several books on garden design.
WHO OWNS THE GARDEN AND WHAT WAS THE BRIEF?
The hillside garden belongs to an architect and his wife, whose new-build house is adjacent to a vineyard, near the Moselle River. Our brief was to terrace the garden using stone, so that it complemented and offered views over the surrounding countryside. The couple also wanted a pond for their koi carp and a space to connect with nature.
WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DESIGN?
This scheme was inspired by the beautiful vineyards and landscape of the region. We also had to work with the terrain – the house is built on a steep hill that drops down twenty feet from the back to the front. I have always admired Japanese gardens, and one of our team is from Kyoto, so many of our landscapes are influenced by Japanese design and the Eastern philosophy of creating peace and harmony through nature. Here, we have used large volcanic rocks as stepping stones through the space; it is a Japanese idea that features in many of my designs.
HOW HAVE YOU BLENDED THE GARDEN INTO THE COUNTRYSIDE?
The planting here is designed to create harmony between the garden and landscape. Using a range of shrubs and perennials of different sizes, we have tried to blend one with the other without blocking the view from the deck. The plants are in many shades of green, which match the vines and trees just beyond the boundaries, and also the greenish-blue tone of the river, which can be seen in the distance. However, in autumn, everything changes, with many of the shrubs and trees turning fiery shades of red and yellow and reflecting the vines, which are putting on a colourful show at this time of year. I have also created a special palette of blue and white flowering plants to echo the colours of the sky.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE WATER FEATURE?
We set one pool in the decking area that was deep enough for the koi carp, and built two others at different levels to form a small cascade, adding a dynamic element to the design. The pool walls are faced with schist stone and topped with coping that is wide enough to sit on, providing a great vantage point for admiring the fish.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR CREATING NATURALISTIC GARDENS?
I like to fuse modern architectural styling, seen here in the geometricshaped deck and water feature, with natural materials, such as the rugged granite and natural wood. I then weave deciduous trees, shrubs, grasses and perennials around these elements to soften the edges and create a landscape that mirrors nature. In addition, I use plants for bees and wildlife habitats, such as ferns, different types of salvia and thyme, while the grasses, including Pennisetum and Miscanthus, also provide food and shelter for wildlife.
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO USE NATURAL STONE IN A GARDEN?
To create a modern rock garden, I would include stones of different sizes. Very large rocks can be used as retaining walls in hilly gardens like this, helping to keep the soil in place. We have also laid large flat stones to make an informal stairway from the front to the back of the garden, and smaller ones to create rocky outcrops in the planted areas. I visit the quarry to choose the exact stones I want, and make a plan beforehand so that I know precisely what I am looking for and the function each stone will play in the design.