In the Foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a Visionary Landscape Architect Creates His Own Eden

In the Foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a Visionary Landscape Architect Creates His Own Eden

Landscape architect Thomas Woltz has a enthusiasm for the clarity and proportion of Italian Renaissance architecture. That Woltz life in a gabled Queen Anne Victorian comes as an ironic shock, even to him. “Palladio did not use spindles and gingerbread,” he notes, dryly. But his residence, jointly with the backyard he has established there around the earlier two a long time, is a unified study in satisfying contrasts. The impact is at as soon as disciplined and spontaneous, respectful and irreverent. A lot like the person himself.

Woltz purchased the dwelling, in a little Virginia city in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in 1999. His restoration honors what he calls the “historic intent” of the framework. “I made a decision to respect the Victorian volumes,” he notes. “I was not likely to take away walls to produce an open up prepare.” For two a long time, the place was a construction site as it acquired a copper roof, a mansard porch roof, and plumbing and electrical—all new.

in a living is a fireplace with carved wood mantel and an ornate round mirror, a grandfather clock, two armchairs with burgundy upholstery, a cocktail table with turned legs, a gray sofa, and a patterned rug
In the residing space, a Chippendale couch and 19th-century Danish chairs flank a hearth primary to the house. The grandfather clock is a family heirloom. The 18th-century mirror is from Naples the partitions are painted in Sea Haze by Benjamin Moore.

Jennifer Hughes

In the hands of a a lot less erudite and playful designer, such attentiveness to historical past may well produce a rigid monotony of fashion. But Woltz loves to devise temporal dialogues—not only between previous and present, but also amongst diverse pasts. As a young gentleman, he put in five decades working towards architecture and instructing in Venice. He lived around the Palazzo Fortuny, which he often frequented. “I was immersed in a earth of the Islamic affect of southern Spain, Italian textiles, home furniture, and Venetian Gothic architecture,” says Woltz, who began accumulating antique Fortuny materials and mild fixtures.

Some of the home furnishings in Woltz’s dwelling tells his very own family’s historical past. Amongst the items handed down about five generations is the grandfather clock in the residing space. It was commissioned by General William Lenoir of North Carolina, Woltz’s good-excellent-good-grandfather, to celebrate the close of the Innovative War. Other parts are garden-sale finds, witnesses to mysterious histories. Still other objects have been gathered on his frequent travels abroad and from pals who are artwork and antiques dealers, among the them Kenny Ball, David L’Eglise, and Simon L’Hopiteau.

a dining room with deep mauve walls, oval wood table and chairs, , a large three tiered pendant lamp, a standing chinoiserie decorated clock, an ornate wall mirror, windows with venetian blinds, wood floor
A Fortuny pendant hangs above a Sheraton mahogany desk in the dining home, where by the walls are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Damp Concrete.

Jennifer Hughes

It’s a tranquil refuge for a person who has made his name executing general public get the job done at a radically distinctive scale. Woltz is an indefatigable advocate for significant general public spaces and genuine landscapes. Each and every 12 months, extra than 30 million people today around the globe make use of parks made by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, the firm he joined in 1998 and has led as proprietor and principal because 2013.

Woltz is presently overseeing the generation of a new park in Houston that is nearly 2 times the sizing of New York’s Central Park. He always commences by exploring the history of a place—an method that has designed him a all-natural alternative for this kind of historic properties as Monticello, Winterthur, and Olana.

a library has a chippendale desk with small drawers and compartments, books and a lamp on top, a large framed photo above, a curved back chair in front, bookshelves, a leather chair and red patterned rug
In the library, a Chippendale desk—an heirloom from Woltz’s mother—holds books by some of his author friends, together with Andrea Wulf, Elizabeth Kostova, and Daniel Mendelsohn. The 19th-century chair is Swedish the photograph is by Olivier Valsecchi.

Jennifer Hughes

When he acquired his Queen Anne, it was surrounded by very little but a 50 percent-acre of grass and two trees. Going for walks by way of the backyard garden right now, you move via a collection of embracing outside “rooms” created by Woltz, who is his individual complete-time gardener. In front of the property, an 8-foot-tall round hedge built of European hornbeams and bordered by fritillaries, wild tulips, and ferns makes a private space in an urban front garden.

Just outside of is a small terrace encompassed by five hornbeams that, around the class of 20 yrs, Woltz has sheared into dwelling columns. Stone actions framed with viburnum and hydrangea lead into the colorful perennial backyard garden, in which bluestone-lined beds define a tidy sq. of garden, then descend to the bowling-green terrace, which kinds a lengthy cross axis. The ultimate back garden is laid out in an ellipse that spans the entire width of the home and is household to flowering shrubs indigenous to China, Japan, and Virginia.

a bedroom has muted green walls, a four poster bed with a rose motif quilt, a slant top desk in a nook, a trunk, a wall tapestry, a luggage stand with antique cases, a curtained window, and a patterned runner
The visitor bedroom’s antique 4-poster bed is dressed with a quilt sewn in 1835 by Woltz’s great-good-fantastic-grandmother. The room’s antiques incorporate an English Regency chair and a French Directoire daybed.

Jennifer Hughes

Satisfying as it is to the eye and the spirit, Woltz’s yard also operates hard. “It was never envisioned as a showplace,” he notes. Rather, it is a residing laboratory in which he tests the spacing of plants for hedges, fresh new combinations of bulbs and perennials, and different pruning solutions and regimes. Every single year he pulls some of the crops and distributes them to pals, producing room for new trials in plantings and layout.

For one of his birthdays, Woltz hosted attendees at a lengthy desk on the bowling inexperienced under a massive chandelier designed from a staghorn sumac that had presented up the ghost. He had wrapped the sumac in hundreds of sensitive LEDs and suspended it upside down above the meal desk from a strong sycamore. It was a attribute gesture for Woltz, reminding individuals gathered that nature, even in dying, illuminates lifetime.

summer 2022 cover elle decor

This tale initially appeared in the Summer 2022 concern of ELLE DECOR. SUBSCRIBE

This content material is produced and taken care of by a 3rd social gathering, and imported on to this web page to assistance consumers present their e mail addresses. You may possibly be equipped to discover a lot more data about this and equivalent articles at