Landscaper Ed Hollander brings the magic of nature back to gardens

A successful garden should create magic,” says landscape designer Ed Hollander, and that magic means more than visual beauty. The president of Hollander Design Landscape Architects has built his practice in Sag Harbor and New York around the principle of creating gardens that are sustainable, site-specific and, of course, beautiful. Birds, bees, butterflies and even worms are cared for in his landscapes, which are attuned to their soil ecologies and client needs. For Hollander, forward-thinking environmental design is nothing new: he’s been setting the trend for 30 years.

Elizabeth Fazzare: What do you consider when designing a summer garden?

Ed Hollander: All of our projects begin with a consideration for the natural environment of the property. We always strive to collaborate with the architects of the building to ensure a seamless flow between interior and exterior spaces. Finally, we spend a lot of time with our clients to learn who they are to find out how we can create magic for them in the landscape. We refer to this as “the three ecologies,” which inform all of our work. Although our landscapes are most thriving in the summer, they must also function year-round.

EF: For you, what should a successful garden feel like?

ED: It should stimulate all the senses and create a feeling of peace and serenity.

EF: Are there any plants you are particularly interested in right now?

ED: We are always looking for plants that work in the environment in which they are planted. Not only should they look beautiful, but they should also provide food and habitat for birds, bees and butterflies.

EF: Are you interested in sustainable landscape? What methodologies do you use to achieve this?

ED: By fully understanding the ecological layer of geology, hydrology, soils and vegetation, we can design a landscape that is both beautiful and environmentally sustainable. Understanding that soil is a living thing is essential to ensuring a healthy landscape and garden.

EF: What is the best mix of greenery and flowers in a design?

ED: Each garden in a landscape is so particular and individual depending on location, environment and client that there is no specific ideal mix. Each project is unique, as are the plantings that best suit the design and site.

EF: How do the gardens in the Hamptons differ from those you design elsewhere?

ED: The Hamptons is a magical place in a maritime environment. The adjacent ocean keeps the summers cooler and the winters warmer. While originally a summer colony, it now has much more of a year-round community at this point. Seaside grasses, puffy hydrangeas and drifting roses are always iconic elements of the Hamptons summer landscape. More recently, native grass and wildflower meadows and native plantation stands have joined in the fun.

EF: How does the climate affect your work?

ED: Everything that grows is impacted by the climate. Even during my career, plants that were once suitable for a certain place may no longer be, as the weather has become warmer and warmer.

EF: When you spend time in the East, what is your favorite garden to visit?

ED: We’ve had a home in Sag Harbor for 30 years and love the East End year-round.

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