Garden Talk with Craig Reynolds

Landscape architect Craig Reynolds on creating memorable outdoor spaces with nature in mind

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It’s been a while since we’ve checked in with you. What’s new at the firm these days?

We’ve grown our family. We’ve added a new project manager and landscape architect in training, Loren Stewart. And we’re busy as ever with new estate projects in the Bahamas, Jamaica, and a villa in Central Florida, all of which we’re very excited about designing. 

You’ve been known to say that “gardens enrich lives.” Can you expand on that statement?

So many people focus on the interior of their homes, for obvious reasons, but when they apply that same focus to the exterior, it takes a property to the next level. Our view is that a garden with properly designed hardscape and landscape adds a new series of rooms that allow you to get back to nature and destress at home.

What are the firm’s main priorities these days?

Same as they’ve always been: great design, excellent client service, and quality project implementation.

It seems we can’t speak of design of any kind without addressing climate change. Can you speak a bit about sustainability and its role at your company?

We use native plants as often as possible and try to design around existing plants and trees or find a way to relocate them as part of our new designs. We are also careful to design the grading so that the stormwater is maintained on site, where the plants need it most.  

What are the most daunting challenges facing landscape architecture in Florida today?

Water needs to be respected more, and more gray water and rain catchments systems should be employed in garden design. More native vegetation is a starting point to reducing water demands, but we need to do a great deal more.

Your firm is tasked with so many different types of projects. Do you have a preferred style?

I love a controlled jungle, a well-layered series of native and tropical plantings with different leaf shapes and color contrasts that direct the eye from space to space and plant to plant. 

What are clients in Florida asking you for these days?

Lush, lush, lush, and tropical, one-of-a-kind designs. Our clients are looking for their own private Eden and that’s why they come to our firm. 

Edens don’t come cheap. Your firm won’t take on any projects without a budget of at least $700,000, and that’s before design fees. What’s behind that decision?

That becomes our opening to explain that our projects include extensive hardscape design in addition to the planting design, integrated completely, which is our signature. At the end of the day, it’s an investment to do something unique and interesting. 

Are there any 2024 trends in landscaping that we should be aware of?

Trends aren’t something that really affects us. Instead, we continue to develop our style, which is custom fit for each project.  

How do you stay inspired and excited about your profession?

The artistic process is addictive. When starting a new project, the challenge to come up with a unique, dramatic, and surprising hardscape layout and planting design is very rewarding… every single time.  

What do you think you’d be doing if it wasn’t landscape architecture?

Pottery. I was a potter prior to this, and I can’t wait to get back to it someday.

Story Credits:

Text by Christopher Day

Garden Photography by Tamara Alvarez

Portrait courtesy of Craig Reynolds Landscape Architects

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