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American Society of Landscape Architects


April 2006 Issue

The Bespoke Landscape
Charles J. Stick’s small practice thrives the old-fashioned way—on pen-and-ink technology, classical design ideals, and long-term relationships.

By Susan Hines

The Besoke Landscape Peter David Lorenzoni, Courtesy Charles J. Stick, Landscape Architect

Stepping over the threshold of landscape architect Charles J. Stick’s tiny office in Charlottesville, Virginia, is like visiting the past. And it’s not only the early nineteenth-century brick building that lends itself to this interpretation, but also the man whose shingle hangs outside the glossy painted door. Stick’s hand-knotted bow tie and gentlemanly demeanor belie his age, while his practice—designing and master planning extensive residential gardens for an exclusive clientele—is reminiscent of the Country Place era.

“This office is like a cobbler’s shop,” says Stick, 44, of his four-person firm. “What we do is like having a pair of shoes made. For me, nothing is more treasured, more beautiful, or more satisfying than something another human makes just for you.” His business partner, Margaret King Murray, says, “Our designs are start to finish. We don’t skip a single detail, and that’s what the client pays for.”

The landscapes that Stick creates, classical gardens that unite grand houses with their grounds and the views beyond, are built on both traditional Beaux-Arts design principles and on the long-term bonds the landscape architect forges with his clients. Rather like a bespoke suit, these gardens are individually tailored to the owner’s specific personal requirements and include extensive architectural features and custom site furnishings.

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