Dabney Peeples’ gardens range from highly traditional to playful and contemporary. The three driving forces of his work are the requirements of the architecture, cues from the land, and the unique personalities of every client. These tenets have influenced hundreds of gardens over the past four decades, each one as unique as the place and people who inspired it. He firmly believes that to successfully practice design over time, one must “never quit learning, always stay completely aware of your surroundings and listen, listen, listen.” Dabney eschews trends in the garden, opting instead for timeless solutions guided by the principles of design, proposing that “if a design is good now, it will be good forever.” He finds inspiration both in classical architecture and contemporary masters, because a garden should reference the past while looking to the future.
Dabney has built his practice on the belief that gardens are first and foremost personal. Relationships are essential to the successful creation of every garden. He extolls the importance of a strong partnership, saying, “No matter how extensive or how detailed a set of drawings are, there is absolutely no substitute for trust between client, designer, and contractor.”
Over the course of 20 years, Kenny Collins has built a company from two men with a truck and a couple of shovels into a thriving group of multiple installation crews with specialist craftsmen. His philosophy has always been to put people first, both internally and in client relationships. Kenny also places great emphasis on structural and horticultural integrity, encouraging continuing education, experimentation, and research to augment the collective team experience. “We are continuously improving how we do things, and we never sacrifice our own integrity by taking a shortcut.” He believes that every element contributes to the value of the garden, from the effectiveness of the drainage and water management, to concert-quality outdoor sound and thoughtful landscape lighting. “Community in life is paramount and the gardens that we create cultivate this on another level. They have the ability to promote community in a unique way.” The work at DabneyCollins is ultimately all about people and valuing relationships; when the relationships are solid, everything else will follow. “It does take a team and I love ours. So much more is possible when we work together.”