Mertz Library Humanities

The Garden Came First: Deborah Nevins

Photo of Deborah Nevins' lush garden

East End, Long Island, NY

Deborah Nevins is one of the world’s most sought-after landscape designers—creating ambitious, innovative projects for high-profile clients worldwide—yet her own, understated two-acre space on Long Island’s East End is intimate and contemplative. The house and gardens were built to maximize the impact of existing stately oaks and cedars, while leaving the perimeter wild. Rows of sycamores and hedges within hedges of hornbeam and boxwood evoke an enclosed green room, yielding glimpses of the lush flower garden beyond, its wide paths lined with elegant perennials. It’s a perfect blend of past and present, the English tradition through a Modernist lens.

Deborah Nevins is president of Deborah Nevins & Associates, a landscape design firm founded more than 20 years ago. Noted for exciting visual experiences, a sophisticated use of plants, and a dedication to sustainability, her work includes the 40-acre Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center in Athens (with Renzo Piano Building Workshop); the expanded campus at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Art Institute of Chicago’s Pritzker Garden, and significant gardens and estates in the U.S., the Caribbean, and Europe. A historian of landscape and architecture, Nevins lectures widely and contributes to numerous books, journals, and periodicals.