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This Local Landscape Designer Modeled Her Yard After Matisse Paintings

Plant guru Amy Martin reveals how she transformed her drab backyard into a vibrant oasis.


Photo by Danielle Robertson

When landscape designer Amy Martin moved into her Scituate home and laid eyes upon the barren backyard, she turned to her favorite artist, Henri Matisse, for renovation inspiration. Playing off the aquatic life in the French painter’s Goldfish, Martin centered the overhaul around a 3-foot-deep pond filled with fish, frogs, and lily pads, encircling the water with colorful flora including iceberg roses and purple salvia. Then, to ground the space, her pals at New England Woodworks crafted a 14-foot-long cedar pergola. The piece has become the designer’s favorite spot to marvel at the wildlife, including the occasional snapping turtle. “The area around the pond is its own little world,” she says.

Elsewhere, Martin put sinuous forms and bold colors (trademarks of Matisse) on display. Take, for instance, the patio furniture. Sourced from Italy, the dining table boasts a curvy base while the Richard Schultz “Confetti” loungers pop thanks to their mint-green hue and shapely cutouts. “When I saw [the chairs], I just about fainted,” Martin says, laughing. Across the way, violet catmint—arranged in a serpentine pattern that mimics the figure in the artist’s “Blue Nudes” series—adds to the effect. “To me, [the yard] is a very sensual place with [snaking] lines, circles, and plants,” the designer says. “It’s where my husband and I restore ourselves on the weekends.”

Photo by JFayNovak Photography