Grand Grasses

Sonia Thompson

The original environmental vision for Splinter Creek began with the landscape architect Ed Blake. Blake was renown for his work in ecological planning and design, focused on the creation of environmentally sustainable places. He founded his practice, the Landscape Studio, on the principle that the natural and cultural evolution of a particular place can be revealed through its design.

Native grasses in the breeze (photo by Stephen Kirkpatrick).

The concept of Splinter Creek as a community marked by diverse forests, open meadows and system of wetlands -- which Blake called “a string of pearls” -- originated with Blake’s vision. He began studying and walking the 650 acres at Splinter Creek in 2006 as he identified the site topography and documented the existing species of plants and trees.

The home at East Cove (photo by Jean Allsopp).

Blake's list of recommended grasses -- including autumn fern, switchgrass, and Hamblin grass -- was based on a study of the natural habitat, including the variety of native plant and tree species, the topography of the land, and the preservation of plants already established on site. He believed that landscape plans were meant to work in concert with the architecture for screening, shaping views, sun control, and softening the transition from buildings to land.

The pink muhly grass sways at Splinter Creek (photo by Erin Austen Abbott).

Following Blake's death in 2010, Splinter Creek turned to Jordan Loch Crabtree, an award-winning landscape architect and founder of the LOCH Collective. Crabtree's passion for and curiosity in art, landscapes, and the environment have led him to design in various ecosystems ranging from New York City to the Patagonia Region of Chile, the Bolivian Andes mountains, and the Chesapeake Bay. He is known for his minimalistic design of spaces set into carefully crafted natural landscapes.

Locally sourced boulders add visual interest in the garden (photo by Nicholas Doyle).

Crabtree created the landscape design for one of Splinter Creek's first residences, the house at East Cove. LOCH designed minimalistic intrusions of paths, boulders, and terraces into the natural landscape. A meadow was designed by sourcing seeds from the entire site, then creating a custom meadow seed mix. Materials and boulders were sourced by hand locally.

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