The Two-for-One Woodland Cottage

Here we have a post from January 2015 about a tiny stone cottage created by two Massachusetts landscape architect, first for a garden show and then for one of their clients:

A stone cottage recently created for the Rhode Island Flower Show has turned into a woodland assignment for a pair of landscape architects.

“We spent months prepping out a display with plants and trees,” says Samantha Best, partner with her husband, Neil, in Magma Design Group of Rehoboth, Mass. “A month later, a client called and asked if we could build it in reality.”

So the pair toured the site, and liked what they saw. “It was the most perfect place for that kind of structure,” she says.

It was elevated in a cedar woodland, surrounded by native stone hundreds of years old, some toppled from walls by freeze and thaw, some by growing plants and some by animals on the run.

But mostly, it was isolated.

“The client, a doctor, wanted a place to unwind, drink a glass of wine, read a book, and to be with her dog, with no phones, no Internet and no husband,” she says.

The husband in question was looking for a shed where he could store lawn mower and garden tools. So now, the top floor of the 20-foot by 20-foot cottage is a retreat, and the lower level is for storage.

“It’s a nice two-for-one structure,” she says.

The project commenced in November and continued, though slowed by snowfall, until May. Neil used a Bobcat to clear a single path in and out of the site, to limit damage to ground and trees. On site, he stacked his stone carefully, using mortar to hold walls in place, though they do offer a dry-stack look.

Now it’s accessed by a series of steppingstones that lead down to the front door, along a path lined with native woodland plants like columbine, yellow stars and Christmas ferns. From the rear window, herds of deer and flocks of wild turkeys can be seen working their way along a natural stream.

“It’s a retreat to connect people to the outdoors in ways they didn’t know were possible, where they can disconnect from all the technologies in the world,” Samantha say. “It’s important to get away from all that, and give her a sense of peace and well-being.”

Occasionally, she added, she’s even gone so far as to let her husband in.

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