European Influence

Photographs by Ryan Youngblood

When Cynthia and George Fetsco spend time in the gardens surrounding their Oakland Township home, they feel as if they’re walking the grounds of a European estate.

“I wanted a formal garden,” says Cynthia, who travels to Europe regularly. “The property reminds me of France and Italy — its designs fall somewhere in between.”

With a mix of boxwood hedging, circular patterns, classical statuary and fountains, natural bluestone, structured beds, and handcrafted metal gates and arbors, the refined gardens do indeed evoke a European sophistication — one that complements the couple’s 10,000-square-foot, antiques-filled home.

A knot hedge with English lavender encircling a decorative urn adds to the classic motif. (English knot gardens feature miniature hedges laid out in geometric or scrolling patterns.)

For a touch of the unexpected, the Fetscos requested a floating fire bowl, which adds drama to the quiet elegance of their Gunite (concrete mixture), infinity-edge pool and spa.

Three years ago, Ryan Youngblood, president of Artistic Landscape Associates in Rochester, composed a plan for the garden-loving couple. “The Fetscos wanted their gardens to make them feel as if they were somewhere in their travels,” Youngblood says. He and his team worked with Keith Anderson, of Anderson Custom Pools in Rochester, and Mark Haines, a metal artist whose company, Dogstar Metals, is based in the Oakland County Village of Leonard.

As is so often the case with successful interior designs and landscapes, the homeowners contributed to the plan. “Cynthia is very keen on style and design,” Youngblood says.

Before style, comes practicality, however.

“We often begin with function — the need for a gated entrance, for instance — and then work to turn that necessary fixture into a sculptural asset for the overall landscape design,” Haines says. “The best outcome occurs when the client is interested in participating in the design process and has strong opinions about art and design.

“The Fetscos are avid collectors of art and decorative arts and really contributed to the process of designing the metalwork.”

That collaboration resulted in a three-acre personal Eden with inviting sitting areas and, of course, party potential for the homeowners, who entertain frequently. “I’ve had three wedding events here with up to 75 people at each,” Cynthia says. Her gatherings — big or small — are often the talk of the season. “When Cynthia entertains outdoors,” Youngblood says, it’s as if “you’ve gotten on a plane and landed somewhere else.”

The Fetscos’ grounds are equally suited to pensive pastimes. Gazing toward the pool and grounds provides a tonic. It is, as Cynthia says, “really quite meditative.”

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