"Being fortunate enough to live in the Hamptons, we are always surrounded by the beauty and creativity of nature," says Roxine Brown, founder and creative director of Harmonia Inc. Brown spent 30 years in the fashion industry before breaking into landscape design and still draws from the world of fashion. Under Brown's creative arm, similar to layering clothing, Harmonia Inc. often layers the elements of its landscape and garden designs. Her deeprooted understanding of color and texture now lends itself to the vibrant hues and intricate foliage that defines Harmonia's landscapes.
Long before the Japanese practice of “forest bathing” started trending on Twitter, Roxine Brown was discovering the restorative benefits of taking a walk in the woods. “It was always my place to go when I needed to think things through,” says Brown of her days as a child spent hiking the nature trails of San Francisco’s East Bay.
During my first visit to a property, I take inventory of existing, healthy plants—from the smallest perennials to mature trees—that can be reused in the future design. Many properties have bits and pieces of plant material, but I prefer larger “drifts,” which really make an impact. Plants and trees are carefully dug up, burlapped and sheltered. Then, as I redesign the gardens, I place these existing plants into the layout.
I grew up in the Bay Area of California, which has such a wonderful climate for gardening, and as a child I made my allow- ance pulling weeds. I got paid by the bucket. My grandmother had beautiful roses and a phenomenal veggie garden, and at my mother’s house, we had a landscape of ivy, geraniums, and bonsai. So between the two I had a very rich horticultural upbringing.
Whether it's a stonework garden path lined with lilies, black-eyed Susans and tall indig- enous grasses or a poolside landscape of blossoming rhododendron, hydrangeas and lush green- ery, Roxine Brown's Bridgehampton-based Harmonia has been inspiring Hamptonites with creative land- scapes for nearly a decade. Her secret? "Interesting textural combinations, beautiful color and comple- menting properties are key," she says, "but the real secret is for a landscape to always look and be natural."
Before the development boom that started in the 1980s, much of our beloved Hamptons were comprised of wild, open spaces. And while the local landscape has changed, there's an increasing desire to preserve the green spaces that do remain. Thankfully, Harmonia Inc.'s founder and creative director, Roxine Brown, is on the job. "I love seeing what's developed naturally, going to the beach, looking at the dunes, hiking through the woods, and seeing how nature has grouped things together," says Brown.
Protecting our lovely trees and gardens during the brutal winter months is just as important as primping and pruning them in summertime.