Neal Charles is the principal designer & horticulturist at neal charles landscape design
Neal and his family recently relocated from Brooklny, NY to Austin, TX.
In the spring of 2005, whilst working as a media research analyst for the publishing arm of the Smithsonian Institution, my family moved into an 1890s brownstone in the landmarked, Brooklyn, New York neighborhood of Stuyvesant Heights. Our new home came with a 600 square foot backyard that had been untouched for over twenty years! It was stifled by 15 foot stalks of Fallopia japonica, a gnarled peach tree and several diseased shrub roses. With an informal background in interior design, I was compelled to create a relaxing retreat from the bustle of city living.
Ignorant of all things plant related but with a passion for research, I set out to teach myself everything there was to know about gardening [or almost everything]. After two years of single-handedly demolishing, re-landscaping, and planting, I transformed what was once an inhospitable and weed-infested space into a lush urban oasis. With increasing queries and commissions from neighbors, and friends, a new career blossomed. I subsequently studied Landscape Design at the New York Botanic Garden and Horticulture at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
Having one's own outdoor space is a precious commodity, so one should maximize the use of every available inch. Having faced the challenges of my own limited area, whilst adding more livable space and value to the property, I am most drawn to creating gardens that extend the boundaries of the home and bring joy to their inhabitants. I have come to the conclusion that gardens exist to make people happy.
Now, after more than twenty years in New York City, my family and I have recently relocated to Austin, Texas, where I am excited to take on the challenges of working in an entirely new environment.