HomeFront Fall 2019

Living Landscapes

By Juliet Kaszas-Hoch | Sep 13, 2019

Barnegat — Each year for more than five decades now, the annual Seashore Open House Tour winds through a handful of exquisite properties on Long Beach Island’s north end. The self-guided tour – a fundraiser for the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences – gives participants an eyeful: inspired architecture, stunning water views and imaginative landscaping. This year, the 53rd, three of the six homes on the tour featured yards designed by Living Landscapes, ensuring the outdoor spaces charmed right alongside the selected residences.

Ken Warfield, owner/president of Living Landscapes in Barnegat, began working part-time for a landscaping company when he was in high school. In college, he studied soil sciences and earned a degree in environmental science. After many years simultaneously operating a garden center and landscaping, he narrowed in on landscape design and installation. Now he brings to every project his years of experience and his knowledge of plants, fused with awareness of the Island environment.

“Our company now focuses on the planting aspect,” Warfield remarked.

As partner Jamie Griffin noted, “We consider function and aesthetics,” taking into account light exposure and wind, and enlisting native vegetation.

She added, “Ken has also built up relationships with a lot of local builders” and other contractors, which creates a synergy on job sites.

Architect Jay Madden designed the three homes on this year’s House Tour with Living Landscapes-created properties. Two of the structures were built by John Tilton of Tilton Construction Co., and the third by Rick Aitken of Richard Aitken Jr. Builders.

Tim Doll and Tom Groeller from Brick-It, a frequent collaborator with Living Landscapes, handled the hardscaping. “They are true partners in much of the work we do,” said Griffin.

Meanwhile, Anthony, Chris and Dinato Sierdio of Jersey Shore Lawn and Sprinkler installed irrigation systems and lighting for two of the three properties.

As Griffin pointed out, for every property they landscape, she and Warfield meet with the homeowners to discuss spaces, ideas and possibilities, and in the end, “We feel proud of the fact that people’s landscapes reflect them.”

“A great landscape design offers more than curb appeal,” the company website, livinglandscapes.com, states. “Our designs extend your living space to create outdoor rooms where you and your family can relax, refresh and spend time together.”

On this year’s house tour, the Gold residence, on Bayview in Loveladies  – owned by Lou and Peggy Gold – includes three distinct areas in the backyard, with enough shade for the very fair, blond Peggy. “Staying out of the sun is important to them, as well as enjoying the sun,” Griffin pointed out. Living Landscapes created a space around the pool, an eating area and a spot for gathering outdoors, to sit and talk.

“Trees and shrubs define three separate yet connected living spaces in this backyard oasis,” the duo explained. “Columnar hornbeams define the pool area, crape myrtles create a canopy over the dining area, and birches ensconce the sitting area, literally creating rooms out of doors.”

As Warfield noted, the choice of trees enabled them to provide “screening and privacy without taking up too much space.”

The courtyard in front of the house, along the bay, is cool and shady in the morning, “with a plant color palette of white, pink and peach tones that literally glows at sunset,” Warfield and Griffin said.

“One of the considerations we always have to keep in mind is elevating the beds,” Warfield explained. “We’re giving plants a good substrate to grow in, and we’re raising them up and showing them off better.”

At the residence of Jack and Valley Kane, on Long Beach Boulevard in North Beach, meanwhile, “A classic grove of autumn olive trees offers privacy for the residents on their front porch without hiding the exquisite details on the front elevation of the Kane house,” said Warfield and Griffin.

Warfield pointed out that both privacy and separation from the gravel lane were important to the Kanes. But, as Griffin added, they also love the front façade of the house, and didn’t want to hide it too much. “The people we work with and for are so talented,” said Warfield, who said the home has many “stunning details.”

In addition to the autumn olives, the open, airy and beautiful property features crape myrtles, ornamental plantings and bright perennials such as hydrangeas. Privet hedges privatize a hot tub. There is a pool along the bay, an eating niche, a bocce court and a vegetable garden.

“Jack Lane is a great vegetable gardener,” Griffin pointed out.

Finally, the home of Michael and Bridget Engle, on Long Beach Boulevard in Harvey Cedars (detailed at designnewjersey.com/blog/summer-send-off/), is an example of “form meets function when the sun-baked residents return from the beach and enjoy a shady respite in the courtyard of the outdoor shower,” Griffin and Warfield explained.

“Informal, time-honored seashore plants like autumn olive, rugosa rose, bayberry, ornamental grasses, Russian sage and black-eyed Susans welcome players to the bocce ball court,” while the fire pit in the backyard is another “important element to the family, as they spend a lot of time talking around it in the evenings.”

Living Landscapes installed “large, tree-form bayberry near the bay to protect the next group of plants, torulosa (‘Hollywood’) junipers and California privet, which all worked together to give the family a sense of intimacy and enclosure around the fire pit.”

Bridget’s father is another adept gardener who encourages the vegetables that Bridget uses in her gourmet dishes, and who helps tend to the property. “Their perennials have bloomed like I’ve never seen perennials bloom,” Griffin remarked.

“They like a lot of color,” she added.

“An explosion,” said Warfield.

“It’s so bright, sunny,” Griffin noted.

In addition to homeowners who love to care for their gardens, flowers and trees, Warfield and Griffin emphasized the importance of their staff. “We are really fortunate to have employees who have been with us for 20-plus years,” said Griffin. “They’re like an extension of Ken at this point.

“What we dream up wouldn’t be possible without these people.”

As the twosome also remarked, “We’ve been privileged to work with so many great builders over the years and currently are fortunate to be working on projects with: Robert Stack (architect and builder), Erik Johnson (homes), Michael Pagnotta (architecture and construction), Paul Maina (builders), Kevin Engelken (KHE Construction), Keith Anderson (Andev Builders), and John Szymanski and Marian Knowles (Stonehenge Building and Development),” as well as Rick Aitken.

“It’s an illustrious list and we feel honored to be called upon to work with them!”

“Of course, individual homeowners also reach out to us on their own, and we are happy to work with them as well,” said Griffin. “In fact, some of our most challenging and rewarding work is done when renovating an existing landscape and making it new.”

And, Warfield pointed out, “landscapes are dynamic”; therefore, Living Landscapes focuses on a long-term relationship with clients. As the website notes, “Our commitment to you goes way beyond the design and installation phases.”

“With plants,” said Warfield, “you’re working towards a future.”

Living Landscapes is headquartered at 96 Lower Shore Rd. To learn more, visit livinglandscapes.com, call 609-698-1199 or email info@livinglandscapes.com.

— Juliet Kaszas-Hoch

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