A! Magazine for the Arts

Quinn Craughwell designed this woodland landscape and treehouse.

Quinn Craughwell designed this woodland landscape and treehouse.

Quinn Craughwell blends nature, art & science

June 27, 2017

If you have been missing Oliver Craughwell as owner of Zazzy'z Roasters in Abingdon, Virginia, here is the reason: He and his wife Quinn, a landscape architect, and family have moved to England.

Quinn Craughwell's first garden memories are of her own planting bed in her parents' garden (Ramsey and Betsy White). "I doubt that I actually took care of it, but I have always been aware of having a garden," she says.

Her first dream wasn't to become a landscape architect. She left Abingdon, Virginia, and went to Charleston, South Carolina, to study marine biology. Like many students, she took a job that wasn't related to her course of study, and that job took her in a different direction.

"As a temporary stop, I worked in a gorgeous garden center, Hyams Garden Center, and fell in love with the plants and gardens of Charleston. I loved helping people decide which plants would fit their growing conditions and their needs. I became aware of landscape architects through this job and decided to look into the profession a bit further. I found that it was a career path that would allow me to continue to work with plants while also satisfying the environmentalist in me. It is such a multi-faceted profession that you really can tailor it to your interests," she says.

Craughwell combined her marine, environmental and landscape interests in her first professional project.

"My first professional project was the renovation of a very large historic home on the Severn River in Annapolis, Maryland. My first day of work in a landscape architecture firm, I was taken on a site visit to inspect the eroding shoreline, which was actually more like a cliff. The project turned out to be very diverse, but we began by addressing the need for shoreline restoration. It was immediately apparent that through landscape architecture, I would be learning a wide range of skills, even within the private sector. Water quality had been a large part of my graduate class's focus, and I was thrilled to be able to do a shoreline restoration project on day one.

"Because I came to landscape architecture through biology, with a focus in the earth sciences, I have always had a slant towards the restorative capabilities of design. As landscape architects, we not only look at the boundaries of the projects, but we research and analyze the surrounding environment, culture and other influences that are working to create the underlying conditions of a site. Minimizing disturbance from construction, as well as restoring and enhancing a site post-construction is an exciting part of the design process for me. I also believe in bringing people, especially children, outdoors, and every project is a chance for me to connect people to nature, even if it is only a rooftop garden in a city. A garden, a park, or a greenway, whatever it is, is a place of respite from the busy world," she says.

Nature also provides the inspiration for Craughwell's designs. She looks for patterns and plant combination. She also loves a traditional English border with roses, peonies and similar plants or a modern garden filled with grasses.

"I suppose it comes down to a design that is well thought out and has a sense of inevitability, as if it has always been that way. I am not pinned down to one particular style or era of design, but some designers that have inspired me are Gertrude Jekyll, Rosemary Verey, David Hicks and Piet Oudulf," she says.

Her designs can be seen throughout the region from her time working for the local arm of Graham Landscape Architecture and then her own firm, Quinn Craughwell Landscape Architects. Some of them include the luxury inn Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee. She created a treehouse and woodland garden in Bristol, Tennessee, and a new vineyard in Bristol, Virginia. Some of her clients keep in touch with her and send photographs of how their gardens are flourishing. "It is so satisfying to know how the garden is maturing and that it is still enjoyed by my clients.

"Southwest Virginia and Northeastern Tennessee are very special places. It has so much history of its own and is surrounded by great natural beauty. I was always excited to find projects that would allow communities to develop their potential, even in a small part. Being in Abingdon expanded my project base to include a wider range of project types, including the Abingdon Urban Trail, designs for local parks, hospital healing gardens, church grounds and a vineyard. It also was instrumental in my learning curve for project management, as well as running the business of a design office," Craughwell says.

Her designs for clients in the Abingdon area won three awards from the Virginia Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

She is now working for a firm called Colvin & Moggridge in the Cotswolds region of England. The longest established landscape architecture firm in England, it has offices in west Oxfordshire and London and a wide range of project types, including private residences, historical estates and properties, public parks and urban landscapes.

"At the moment, I am focusing on a Grade 1 country house (the highest level of historical significance), which is being transformed into a private residence after decades of use as a hotel. The oldest part of the house dates to the late 16th century, with the major building construction having been completed in 1633. I had visited the hotel with my mother and sister in 2001 during a trip to England, so it felt familiar to me already.

I'm surrounded by people who have worked with the historically famous names of garden design and landscape architecture. It amazes me to be surrounded by the gardens and estates that I have been reading about for so long.

"A book that has been on my desk since I began landscape architecture is "Arts & Crafts Gardens' by Gertrude Jeykll and Lawrence Weaver. It is an account of the houses and gardens in this area, and so many of them are open to the public now. It is such a treat to walk through the gardens I have only seen in pictures for years. As an example, we are working on realigning the approach to a house and garden that was originally designed by Edwin Lutyens, a premier British architect in the early 1900s," she says.

Craughwell spent two years at Salem College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, before transferring to UNC-Chapel Hill to study marine biology. She graduated from UNC in 1998 and began a graduate program in landscape architecture at North Carolina State University a year later. She received a scholarship to study abroad in Scotland during her graduate program, and spent the year in Southwest Scotland living and working in a National Trust for Threave Gardens.

She returned to the United States to finish her degree and immediately thereafter began work in Annapolis, Maryland, for Graham Landscape Architecture. She met Jay Graham through Peyton Boyd, an architect based in Abingdon. After a few years in Annapolis, she and her husband decided to move to Abingdon, where she would run a satellite office of GLA. After 11 years, she opened her own firm in Abingdon in 2013. As the economy began to slow in the region, her husband, who is from Ireland, and she decided to pursue the idea of living in the UK or Ireland.

"When I found the advertisement from Colvin & Moggridge, it was as if it had been written for me. It has a wonderful family feel and is so grounded in history, yet is forward thinking and innovative in its approach.

For more information about Colvin & Moggridge visit, www.colmog.co.uk.