The Lesly S. Smith Landscape Award was created by the Preservation Foundation in 2011 to honor excellence in landscape design. Whereas all previous winning designs were completed within three years of the award date, this year’s winner breaks with that tradition in recognition of the exceptional design that can result from the evolution of a garden over time.
Award recipient Kit Pannill has been crafting the landscape of her Lake House, located on the historic Lake Trail, for the past thirty-three years. From what was once an ordinary landscape with two Ficus trees and two Mango trees, she has created an elegant plant-lovers paradise complete with interesting plants and intriguing secret spaces.
The design and flow of the landscape emerged organically as Pannill discovered new plants at the nurseries she visited. And while the landscape design and plant selection are attributed to her, assistance with the design of fences, gates, and other hardscape elements was provided by landscape architect Mario Nievera.
The back terrace of the house opens onto textured green and white planting beds and a sweeping lawn that encircles a stunning Ficus benjamina. Flowering orchids hang from the tree, injecting small bursts of color into the monochromatic landscape.
Another section of the property, acquired three years after the home was purchased, is defined by the use of color. Beneath its majestic Ficus altissima now grows a lush and colorful shade garden. Multicolored garden beds and a grand orchid slat house—inhabited by hundreds of orchids, begonias, cacti, and succulents—fill the northeastern section of the expansive garden.