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A Tale of Two Gardens
All Austin-area gardens are not created equal, even if they’re designed by the same landscape architects.
By Robin Fran Abrams, ASLA

Two gardens by Gardens, James David’s award-winning design/build landscape architecture practice in Austin, Texas, illustrate why landscape architects need to be included in architectural projects from conception if those projects are to reach their full promise. Both gardens are in Austin: one in the midst of an urban neighborhood, the other in the suburbs west of the city where the Texas Hill Country begins.

A Tale of Two Gardens
The entry forecourt to the urban garden is framed by a mature live oak. The connection to the rear garden and courtyard is through the large arch to the right.
Photo by Robin Fran Abrams

The clients associated with the urban garden chose to build their family’s dream house almost within sight of the capitol building and the University of Texas tower. They managed to find a “tear down” in a high-income historic neighborhood—a tight space on a corner lot. The clients wanted a house strongly influenced by the Italian Renaissance style. They employed a local architect, Hobson Crow, who in another age might have come under the description of “society architect”—an architect not intimidated by clients with a large program and quite sophisticated taste. While they might not be unusual in Los Angeles, Miami, or the New York environs, or even Dallas or Houston, these are not the kinds of clients who walk into the office every day in Austin. These clients also knew they wanted a landscape architecture firm involved from the start, and they wanted it to be Gardens.

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