Littleton, MA - Established 2012
The design process begins, in most cases, with an on-site consultation. This can take from one to several hours, depending on the size and complexity of the site. I talk with the owner(s) about their wants and needs for their outdoor spaces, and offer specific suggestions regarding how to achieve these goals. This discussion will be followed up with a report outlining my observations and recommendations, with photos or quick sketches as applicable. The consultation itself can be a one-time, "stand-alone" service; however, if the owner elects to take the process to the "next level" and proceed with a design contract, my fee for the initial consultation will be credited toward the design fee.
A thorough inspection and measurement of the area to be designed. Structures, terrain and significant vegetation are mapped as accurately as possible. Care is taken to create a painstaking record of existing conditions so that, back in my studio, I will have a detailed model of the site on which to base my design decisions. In certain instances, such as properties which include very steep or wooded slopes or natural hazards, such as rocky coastline, it may be prudent to have this done by a professional surveyor; I will advise the owner if this is the case.
Before beginning work on the design—usually prior to the site survey, and in many cases as part of the initial consultation—I will note details not just about the site, but about the owners as well. This information forms the project brief, a set of guidelines which help me create designs as individual as my clients, and best suited to their specific needs and wishes. All design contracts include delivery of a detailed outline plan, with at least one scale drawing to illustrate my proposed changes to the site. Elevation drawings, construction detail drawings, axonometric renderings and hand-colored plans may also be included. I do not use CAD or CGI; all drawings are the products of meticulous hand drafting.
If desired, and under separate contract, I can arrange to be on-site while the owner's selected contractors execute my design. As construction proceeds, I will observe and work with installers to ensure the resulting landscape and its elements remain faithful to my design and satisfy my client's expectations.
A New England native, I grew up in Woburn and Cambridge, Massachusetts and spent many years living in the Pioneer Valley area before settling in my current residence in Littleton, on the "Johnny Appleseed Trail" in central Massachusetts.
My childhood summers were spent at my family's retreat in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The woods there were my playground, where cold, clear brooks dance down fern-covered slopes of birch and pine forest strewn with lichen-encrusted granite boulders.
I majored in Classics and Art History at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where I also studied German and Dutch.
In June of 2012, I graduated with distinction from UK-based Garden Design School's USA program at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, Massachusetts.
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As part of the Garden Design School diploma program, four major design projects are undertaken, beginning with a small courtyard garden and ramping up in size and scope to a rural estate. Each design project is based on a real-life case study and is intended to provide practical, hands-on experience. A full range of documentation is produced for each project, from site analysis to outline plan, construction detail drawings, planting plan and schedule, setting-out drawings, specifications, and perspective renderings.
Thomas Wheaton’s innovative design approach, spatial comprehension, attention to detail and meticulous drafting skills were consistently singled out for praise by Garden Design School founders and instructors Robin Templar-Williams and Moira Farnham, both noted UK designers.
Left - Project IV, Outline Plan (Detail), Right - Project IV, Axonometric Drawing of Pool Area
Project III, Axonometric Rendering (Detail)
Project III, Construction Detail Drawing
This garden has been designed as a courtyard/entry garden for a brownstone or row house in one of Boston’s historic neighborhoods. Once a barren, paved parking space, it has been transformed into a formal yet intimate eco-friendly sanctuary. For the home’s owners and their guests, the passage from sidewalk to side entry is now a restorative stroll through lush, green environs offering a spot to sit and rest, and even pick and enjoy a fresh pear from espaliered trees. Change is manifested on multiple levels within this contemplative space. The journey through the garden is a transition from public to private space, or vice versa. The plantings will metamorphose with the seasons, providing an ever-changing view. Dense plantings provide a new habitat for native birds. A concealed rain water collection system reduces street runoff, and cuts back or eliminates the need to use public, metered water in the garden. Innovative applications of recycled and recyclable materials result in sustainable, high-end finishes. And, by its very creation, this garden embodies a shift to a more carbon-neutral future. It is projected that, by 2050, 7 out of 10 people on earth will be city dwellers. In choosing to do without a private car and convert vehicle storage space to green space, our homeowners are taking action to help minimize humankind’s contribution to global climate change.
The Boston Flower & Garden Show is on March 13-17, 2013. For more information, visit the Boston Flower & Garden Show website or download a brochure about "A Welcoming Urban Oasis". Don't miss a 360 panorama of the space.
"A Welcoming Urban Oasis", installation view
Installation day, all shrubs in place.
"A Welcoming Urban Oasis", exhibit for 2013 Boston Flower and Garden Show, elevation view
Flower Show garden plan in its final version
Flower Show garden plan in its first finished version
"A Welcoming Urban Oasis", exhibit for 2013 Boston Flower and Garden Show, plan view
Plants for the Show garden are in the greenhouse at Weston Nurseries to begin the forcing process. With gradual warming and expert care, they will bloom in mid-March, about six weeks earlier than normal.
Steel work for the interior retaining walls
The timbers for the kick board have all been cut to length (one dozen each at 8' and 12') and are now ready to be drilled for the pegs which will lock them together
A half-brick, Tudor-style residence on a corner lot with an inconspicuous front entrance featured an awkward, undersized rear deck which its current owners use as the dwelling’s main entrance due to its proximity to the parking space. The deck seating area was uncomfortably exposed to an adjacent busy sidewalk.
Thomas Wheaton’s redesign of the lot includes an open, railing-free, bilevel deck with abundant built-in seating, a privacy screen designed to harmonize with the house’s period architecture, and renewed emphasis and formality for the front entry.
Elevation views of proposed privacy screen, entry gate, deck and built-in seating
Elevation view of entry
Isometric view of proposed changes to rear yard/driveway area
A cozy Cape house in a suburban neighborhood lacked the outdoor entertaining space its owners desired. Being avid cooks and advocates of local, organic farming, they also wished for a pleasant, tidy kitchen garden in which to grow their own fresh vegetables and herbs.
Thomas Wheaton’s solution includes a 400+ square foot deck off the rear of the breezeway. This spacious outdoor room is divided by a “living wall” into separate spaces for lounging and dining. Rows of evergreens off either side of the deck provide privacy, quiet and wind screening.
At the front of the house, a series of raised beds and gravel side paths flanking the approach to the front door comprises an ample and productive potager (kitchen garden). Enclosed by a traditional picket fence, with plantings of evergreen shrubs projecting forward and framing a wooden archway, the garden lends period charm and formality to the front of the residence.
Masses of shrubs along the boundaries with neighboring properties provide additional habitat for desirable wildlife while helping to delineate the owners’ private space.
The owners of a newly-built home on property abutting conservation land sought a solution to deter their young grandchildren from playing on a steep and hazardous rock ledge, as well as space for enjoying the sun next to their screened-in porch.
Thomas Wheaton’s design includes a retaining wall which is backfilled against the ledge, with a tall evergreen hedge planted along the resulting terrace. Freestanding walls extend forward at right angles to create a sense of enclosure and added privacy in the back yard.
A spacious 12’ x 29’ patio features a container “pocket” garden to conceal the gas fireplace exhaust, and is complemented by deep areas for lawn or planting beds. Flowering shrubs add color, depth and liveliness. This entertaining space is connected to the front yard and bulkhead entry by a walkway with space for grilling.
The owner of this colonial-style home wished to replace its unsightly, dilapidated concrete walk, retaining wall and front steps with natural stonework.
In collaboration with Thomas Lynch of Thomas Lynch Design, a new plan was developed for a grander approach to the home’s front entry. Broad, majestic slabs and boulders of local granite were carefully maneuvered into place by skilled stone artisans to form a rugged, yet elegant new path to the front door. Stepping stones aligned with the front door traverse the lawn from the walk’s circular hub out to the cul-de-sac. The spacing of these is based on the Fibonacci sequence, lending a touch of whimsy which is appreciated by the resident, an engineer.
Plantings will frame and soften the effect of the rustic stonework to create a lush and welcoming new entry garden.
Stonework completed, the beds are now ready to receive shrubs and trees
Front walkway prior to redesign
The owners of this colonial-style home wished to replace an outdated concrete paver walkway, and to replace the turf lawn with a water-wise native planting scheme.
Thomas Wheaton’s design for the new walkway is cruciform, creating new destinations within the front garden space and giving the approach to the front entry new emphasis and formality. The redesigned walkway is better suited to the home’s scale and lines. Granite curbing salvaged from the Franconia Notch Parkway in New Hampshire was selected as the new paving material.
High-maintenance turf lawn will disappear, to be replaced by drought tolerant, prairie-style plantings anchored by four graceful multi-stemmed river birches.
Design for new walkway and plantings
Front lawn and walkway before redesign
A professional couple desired to complement their home’s ample interior space with a deck for al fresco dining, entertaining and relaxation.
Thomas Wheaton’s custom design adds over 600 square feet of outdoor living space to the home. Railing-free, the deck opens onto uninterrupted vistas of the rear yard via gently-descending, full-width steps. The clean, broad lines and generous proportions of the deck lend a feeling of expansiveness and drama to the semi-enclosed space.
While the openness of the deck’s design is quite modern, its simple and understated form harmonizes with the home’s classic character.
Design for the new deck. Ramps (at left) were omitted during construction
Rear yard before deck construction
The new owners of a restored historic (ca. 1800) home were looking for a plan to enhance the functionality and aesthetic appeal of its bare, neglected surroundings.
Spaces suited to a variety of purposes have been incorporated in Thomas Wheaton’s design for the property. From the sidewalk, parallel rows of perennial beds will create layers of color, texture and depth to frame the dignified front entry. Lush planting beds also flank the main entrance at the side of the house. Tall, formal perimeter hedges of hornbeam enclose the property to create privacy in the side and rear yards. From the new cobblestone driveway, a grassy path leads through an opening in the hedge and past a soothing fountain to a serene, sunny gravel courtyard. The path continues past a raised-bed kitchen garden and cobbled ramp leading to the barn doors, which open onto the owner’s sculpture studio. Beyond, an outdoor dining area and open yard for children’s play is graced by the sweet scent of apple and pear blossoms from espaliered trees covering the stone retaining wall. Steps lead down the other side of the wall to a sunken portion of the rear yard, which shelters a small fruit orchard. Gated at both ends, a narrow, disused area of the side yard provides an area for keeping fowl.