Wye Hall dates to the 1790s. Jay Graham's work on the property showed how historical knowledge and a responsible land ethic can shape a strategy for design and conservation that will transform the site into a model for cultural and natural stewardship. As a result, a respectful 21st century landscape layer now overlays the 18th century foundation, recapturing its heritage, preserving its archaeology, and establishing sustainable land strategies for the landowners.
Photos by Victoria Cooper
Existing Conditions + Site Analysis
The Comprehensive Plan
Landscape Master Plan
Residential Site Plan
Key Design Elements
Site Program Diagram
Rendered Site Plan
Project Data + Facts
1. Archaeology Informs Ecology
Our team reasoned for an archaeological study of the site in order to better understand what pieces of the site may be extant and informative as the property was brought back to life. The archaeologists’ findings created strong directives for the 21st century landscape layer.
Historic research revealed the functional axis cut longitudinally through the house. This guided our placement of the recreational amenities along this remnant of the old service road.
In studying the layout of the earthwork terraces we noticed that Mr. Paca used the golden rectangle proportions in dimensioning the large terraces. We continued to use that proportion when placing features such as the fountain in the garden.
Archaeological information regarding locations of original fencing influenced our use of meadows, at ascending heights, transitioning from the domestic landscape to agricultural fields, decreasing the use of lawn, and increasing wildlife habitat while reduced mowing.
2. Layers of Garden
All work near the house was conceived to protect underground archaeological resources. Around the manor house we focused on plants used in Federal era gardens. Plantings become less formal and more native as they extend beyond the fence line of the historic residence.
Plantings in closest proximity to the residence enhance the north and south landforms, providing structure, scale, and seasonal interest.
Colorful island beds, a reference to T. Jefferson and H. Repton, define inner and outer gardens and replace foundation plantings.
On the sides of the house, the landscape architects placed the kitchen garden and the cutting garden. The Cutting Garden features an orderly layout with four tuteurs that provide garden structure.
The West Garden adjoins an informal family room and overlooks the meadows and farm fields. Plantings are native in homage to the “wilderness” garden William Paca created as part of his Annapolis garden in the early 18th century.
Planting strategies extend outward to reforestation projects, hedge-row and forest buffer expansion.
Along the shoreline we significantly widened the State mandated buffer intended to improve Chesapeake Bay water quality. For shoreline restoration, we used native groundcovers and shrubs to control the eroding banks of the Wye River.
3. Ecological Conservation
Beyond the garden wall, land management at Wye Hall used conservation practices to achieve a landscape aesthetic that reduces the environmental impact of conventional agriculture and reduces mowing regimens.
In the expanses beyond the domestic landscape, we created 26 acres of meadow to replace high-maintenance turf areas. The fields were to become habitat for ground nesting birds.
These low and high meadows are burned in spring, on a three-year cycle that benefits both the fauna and flora.
In small, less efficient agricultural fields we connected existing woodlands through 10 acres of initial reforestation in order to enhance and diversify habitat.
Zone 1 - Entrance Garden
[tree] Cercis canadensis Eastern Redbud
[tree] Ilex opaca American Holly
[shrub] Rhus aromatica Fragrant Sumac
[shrub] Viburnum dentatum Arrowwood Viburnum
[shrub] Viburnum prunifolium Blackhaw Viburnum
[shrub] Ilex glabra Inkberry
Zone 2 - Around the House
[tree] Chionanthus virginicus Fringe Tree
[shrub] Buxus sempervirens 'Suffruticosa' English Boxwood
[Perennial] Perovskia atriplicifilia Russian Sage
[Perennial] Verbena bonariensis Verbena
[Perennial] Dicentra spectabilis 'Alba' White Bleeding Heart
[Perennial] Vinca minor 'Alba' White Periwinkle
Zone 3 - Pool & Tennis Garden
[tree] Quercus phellos Willow Oak
[shrub] Aesculus parviflora Bottlebrush Buckeye
[shrub] Calycanthus floridus
[shrub] Hydrangea quercifolia Oak Leaf Hydrangea
[Perennial] Echinacea purpurea Coneflower
[Perennial] Sporobolus heterolepis Prairie Dropseed
Zone 4 - Wilderness Garden
[tree] Magnolia virginiana Sweetbay Magnolia
[shrub] Rhus aromatica 'Gro-Low' 'Gro Low' Sumac
[Perennial] Chasmanthium latifolium Northern Sea Oats
[Perennial] Tiarella cordifolia Foamflower
[Perennial] Amsonia hubrichtii
[Perennial] Athyrium filix-femina Lady Fern
Zone 5 - Kitchen Garden
[tree] Vitex agnus-castus Chastetree
[shrub] Myrica pennsylvanica Northern Bayberry
[Perennial] Clematis spp.
[Perennial] Ceratostigma plumbaginoides Leadwort
[Perennial] Galanthus nivalis
[Perennial] Narcissus spp. Daffodil
In addition to establishing this site as a valuable archaeological resource, we set a new course for responsible ecological stewardship of the 130-acre tidewater parcel.
Consultant for the Wye Hall Renovations: Dr. James E. Adams, MA CChem FRSC
Wye Hall Restoration, Conservatory Addition, & Boathouse: Michael John Ray, AIA, Good Architecture
North Porch of Carriage House & Pool Complex: Mark S. Buchanan, AIA, Versaci Neumann & Partners
Barn: Mark S. Buchanan, AIA, Versaci Neumann & Partners
Architecture: Neumann Lewis Buchanan
Archaeology: Mark Leone, PhD, University of Maryland
Fine Art Finishes: Vera Karelian, Wyecrest Studio
18th Century Decorative Art Consultant: Gary Lawrik, Lawrik Interiors
Boxwood Consultant: Lynn Batdorf, U.S. National Arboretum
Horticultural Consultant: Norm & Karl Fischer, Wye Nursery
Geothermal Engineering: David Hoffman, Gipe Associates
Shoreline Restoration: Colin A. MacLachlan, ASLA
2007 Honor Award, American Society of Landscape Architects, Maryland Chapter
Philip Trammell Shutze Award, Institute of Classical Architecture, 2010
1999 - 2004
Wye Island, Maryland
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