Order, symmetry and classic touches add formal flair to a Little Rock garden
Overlooking the Arkansas River in Little Rock stands a quintessentially French maison, complete with a copper Mansard roof, climbing ivy and trademark formal gardens. The French Revival-style home was the first of its kind in Cammack Village, and the adjoining gardens designed by renowned Arkansas landscape architect Neil Hamill Park are acquisitions of the Smithsonian Institute’s Archive of American Gardens. When the current homeowners moved in, they began restoring the gardens to their former glory with the help of Scott Connerly at Landscape Architects.
Jardin à la Française
The philosophy behind formal French gardens encourages symmetry and clean lines—the imposition of order on nature. The result feels both traditional and modern, with symmetrical allées, or walkways, juxtaposed against bloom-filled parterres. The lead sculptures that dot the property are original to the home, and the homeowners took great care to restore and retain them during the renovation.
Though the overall style of the gardens has heavy European influences, the homeowners wanted to include a nod to Arkansas by finishing the parterres with plants that had a more regional feel. Jordan Parker of The Good Earth Garden Center customized the gardens with annuals that thrive in the Arkansas heat, including white and yellow lantana, purple scaevola and Angelonia. Though it isn’t native to Arkansas, oak leaf hydrangea was used for its close resemblance to local varieties. “They’re very natural and local-looking,” Parker says, “and they can be used in a more formal design to tie it all together.”
In keeping with the French style of the home, the remodeled gardens are separated into seven different parterres, including an apple orchard, an intimate gated courtyard with a geometric cobblestone walkway, and a formal oval garden filled with seasonal blooms. Lead sculptures backed by ivy-covered treillage are placed throughout the gardens to mark the intersections of the allées. Those fortunate enough to stay in the guest suite get a spectacular view of the third parterre allée, looking down toward the small wading pool which is appointed with lead swan fountains. At the edge of the property, a steel-framed pavilion with a Mansard roof overlooks the classic oval pool.
Contractor Chris Roystuart, Roystuart Brown, Little Rock, (501) 580-6262, roystuartbrown.com
Architect Rodney Parham, Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects, Little Rock, (501) 378-0878, polkstanleywilcox.com
Landscaping Jordan Parker, The Good Earth Garden Center, Little Rock, (501) 868-4666, thegoodearthgarden.com; Scott Connerly, Landscape Associates, North Little Rock, (501) 758-8711, landscapeassociatesar.com
Ironwork Mike Sedder, Sedder Iron Works, Paron, (501) 821-4068
Pools Brooks Pools, Little Rock, (501) 771-1501, brookspools.com