Prairie Style: Wilmington, Delaware

This private residence is an example of what can be accomplished when the owners are inspired to make their house a home and celebrate the qualities of garden and architecture that best define their sensibilities. Located in the most unlikely of places, a cramped exurban subdivision full of Postmodern interpretations of Colonial and Federal style houses, the owners chose to realize their vision here where they have put down their roots.

These images (taken nine months after installation) depict the front of the house, which in the American residential landscape is typically the sacrificial offering to passersby and the neighbor across the street. Not so with this home, where the design intentionally responds to the the owners' wishes first and everyone else second. Groupings of winter blooming Primavera Witchhazel (Hamamelis x intermedia 'Primavera') command the center of the front lawn to diminish views of public asphalt as seen from the newly remodeled dining room and the new glass and bluestone vestibule.
A circular garden niche on the right side is lined with Fastigate Hornbeams (Carpinus betulus 'Fastigiata') and Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina domestica), creating at once a human-scaled destination and visual buffering of the neighboring domicile a scant 40 feet away. The home office window peers through the branches of an existing Japanese Snowbell (Styrax obassia) and into this space, offering peaceful and private scenery.

On the left side a narrow, low-lying space was transformed into a Japan-esque woodland walk that simultaneously provides conveyance for both garden visitors and rainwater. Before being renovated, this area was muddy, eroded and generally devoid of interest due to the demands placed on it by feet and slowly draining puddles. These conditions were celebrated by elevating the walking surface above the ground level and selecting plants that would thrive in shady, moist conditions. The path was created with granite stepping stones inspired by large rocks crossing a stream and arranged as a Japanese plank bridge. Each stone was hand cut from a massive slab of Pennsylvania granite and tooled to provide just the right dimensions and nonslip texture. The sides purposely sport the markings left by the tools that fractured them from the parent rock, offering character and an interesting story to tell.

Learn more about this project and its evolution by seeing it On The Drawing Board and being installed In The Field. Danilo Maffei creates landscapes that embrace the environmental, social and economic aspects of the garden and crafts them into a meaningful and useful whole.


  1. Danilo,

    Great design, and great choices of plant materials and stone.

    I hope your clients realize what they have is world class.

    Well Done.

    John DeVore

  2. Thanks, John. High praise coming from you. Best regards.