By MICHELE GRAHAM
Photography by CHICHI UBIÑA
The Contes’ work can be seen throughout luxury properties across lower Fairfield and Westchester counties – from the rolling pastures of background to spectacular waterfront estates. Most days, John’s hours are brimming with creativity and fun. “I’m fortunate to deal with people who are in a good place in their life,” he says enthusiastically.
For John, landscape design isn’t just about a color palette and positioning plants. “We transform landforms and shape things. Big opportunities can be missed if a landscape architect isn’t brought in early.” The creative vision begins with a home’s architecture and the lay of the land. “We work with the existing plants and natural stone so the overall design looks like it’s always been part of the property. We save a lot of plant material, and take special care with mature plantings so that they can transplanted.”
While John’s personal aesthetic tends toward the naturalistic and free form, right now he’s inspired by clean lines and new technologies. “The landscape lighting options available now are amazing. Technology also makes possible outdoor rooms that have all the function of interior rooms.” And speaking of rooms, one of John’s favorite ways to add visual interest is through a series of garden rooms.
The list of land agencies and boards that John serves on is extensive. He also lends his firm’s talents to pro bono projects. One of those recent projects was Byram Shore Park, where he met his wife Kim 35 years ago. Another is Greenwich Commons Park, where he and Kim had their first date. There you go: love & landscapes.