Crimes against…Masonry?


I love Billy Goodnick’s campaign “Crimes against Horticulture,” but these expensive stone columns are in a whole other category.  Just imagine the plants the owners could have bought and had installed for the money they spent for these?  In a wealthy neighborhood in Bethesda, Maryland.


Another view - because I couldn't resist.
Grand entrance for a parking slab.


  1. Anytime I see something like this, my first reaction is “What happened to their fence?” because they look like they are missing the fancy wrought iron fence between each pillar … but I guess they spent too much money on those to afford the fence.

  2. This house had the landscaping style that I call “scorched earth” as in nothing there. I see it every so often and I always wonder about a person who would think that a yard that looked like that was desirable.

  3. Huh. I’ve seen columns like that around here but there was an iron fence in between, this just looks very confusing indeed.

  4. The planter box between 2 of the pillars suggests maybe they will plant a fence of shrubs there, but the pillars flanking the lawn are a mystery (unless a fence is coming?). It looks like a newly-built house waiting for ideas. I see what looks like a lattice-work trellis on the wall, maybe they’ll plant some clematis there?

  5. I agree with others. My first reaction was, “where is the fence?” The house has cute potential, but it is very severe looking in it’s current state.

  6. You’ve all got it wrong.

    There not posts for fencing but staging columns for the motherships arrival to planet earth! From space, the columns indicate the correct trajectory through our atmosphere to land their spacecraft safely. Once they’ve finished off their experiments, like seeing what GMO’s do to the human body, the parking pad acts like a blast shield for take-off.

    There, doesn’t that more sense!

  7. My first thought was also where is the fence. Fencing between the stone posts would make it stylish. More shrubberies would help to. If it has been like that for years the question becomes, did they run out of money in the housing crash?

  8. I know the title of this blog is “Garden Rant” but I think this post has really gone too far. The post and accompanying comments sound like mean girls in high school ragging on someone who doesn’t have clothes that look right. Including the fact that it is in a wealthy neighborhood indicates that you want to mitigate the fact that you have taken pictures of someone’s house and posted it with rude comments about their lack of design sense. Try to think of it this way — maybe the owners of the house have things going on in their lives that make it impossible for them to spend their time and resources on landscaping. Sheesh!

    • While it’s true that this is a criticism of someone’s home, and they may have other more important things going on, but this is a conversation this country has to have. We all need to raise the collective consciousness to a new level of taste! More often than not, people like this are not aware of good taste-because they have poor examples on every block and lack of exposure to finer living- they probably never set foot on a truly beautiful garden. Poor souls need help, as do many in the United States. This is a serious problem because we have whole bunches of people who are not aware of how nature can enhance and help their existence- on any income. Beauty can enhance a person’s existence greatly.

      • I’m not sure if you’re being facetious or arrogant – you presume to be the arbiter of taste for the entire country? Pour souls need your help to overcome this shortcoming? Yikes…

    • When Lady Gaga dresses up it’s to stand out from the crowd and be different. Many of us in gardening are also trying to be different, breaking the mold of perceived wisdom. So, why should it be any different when you build columns and concrete parking pad at the front of your house? Front gardens by its nature, are shared by everyone in the neighborhood you live in. What you do can effect everyone that lives around you. If you don’t want to invite criticism in the first place then don’t try and stand out and be different. Instead, embrace the comments, good or bad and grow from there.
      Taste is a matter of opinion, but I see an opportunity waiting to be embraced which many have echoed on this post.

  9. The only question I have is this: Is this the servants quarters? That’s a mighty impressive set of posts for what looks like a cottage. I’m guessing that the Big House is set back from the road, otherwise, it would just look silly. And yes Margaret – you’re right in chastising us for being mean and petty. However, there is the First Amendment to consider. We’re just giving it a workout today!

  10. My first reaction is that a brick mason lives there. Brick masons and stone masons often bring their expertise home.

    I expect the project is unfinished. When people are doing these things on their own time to their own place, they take a while to get finished if for no other reason is that the home jobs take a back seat to jobs that actually pay.

  11. I agree with Margaret. Sorry Susan but I have to say: I’ll bet that I could drive by all your houses, snap a picture, put it on my Facebook page, and set you up for a bit (or a lot) of ridicule for your aesthetic choices (or lack of them). It’s easy in the small world of garden blogging to feel superior. But really, what are we saying about ourselves?

    • Carol: I think there’s a valid, educational purpose for criticism. We learn by seeing things through other people’s eyes. You can agree or disagree with their POV, but there are potential lessons. I think Susan did a pretty respectful job of presenting her criticism — could have been much more caustic but she was very even handed.

  12. That’s no upscale house, that’s a nice little brick ranchburger. If the columns were to scale and done in brick to match the house, it would look more appropriate. No gardeners live there, thus no plants?

  13. I would call it a crime against landscapes. The latest of these crimes on my personal list is…. wait for it…. mulch glue!

  14. As a self-declared expert in crimes against landscape stuff (that’s a technical term), I have to weigh in on this inexplicable design disconnect. Regardless of the property values in this neighborhood (Really, this is a house in a wealthy neighborhood? Proves my thesis that money does not necessarily bestow design sense), it simply doesn’t work. It is wanting on multiple levels:

    Scale: Given the placement of the house on the lot, it appears petite and the columns are far too grand to make any sense with it. And the cap stones are puny — needs at least a 6″ thick slab to balance the mass of the columns. This is a common mistake made by lots of folks.

    Materials: The house is brick, there’s no hint of native stone on the property, but the owners goes with flagstone anyway. It’s like a committee that never visited the site did the design in a vacuum.

    Purpose: As already observed by so many, columns like these are designed to hold up a fence. Here, I’ll give them a break. Perhaps a fence intended and they ran out of funds. I don’t expect them to tear down the columns, but as also suggested, plant a hedge to fill the gap.

    Horticulture: Unless the intent was, indeed, to add a fence, the bed below is disproportionately small for anything other than some posies, which would be overpowered by the columns and look completely out of context, since there’s nothing planted along the house to tie the site together. Can’t tell if there’s a planter to the right of the driveway. If it’s simply lawn, then this is even sillier.

    So as long as I’m beating up on these folks, what’s with the parking slab running right up to the structure, leaving no planting room to soften the house? It’s just a sea of concrete with an architecturally undistinguished house dominating the site.

    Okay, I’m putting in my mouth guard and donning my Kevlar vest. Fire away.

  15. It’s a postmodern critique of barren suburbia, a stage set with an invisible fence. Look at the house itself: a faux window created by 2 small windows linked by a trellis suggesting diamond-shaped panes, the whole thing flanked by a pair of shutters. That in itself is a snarky comment on symmetry and convention, with a soupcon of whimsy. The trellis pokes fun at the scale of the small windows by suggesting they were pulled apart. And then, in a Daliesque twist, the placement of the door and the picture window hint at, from right to left, 2 eyes, a nose with sunscreen, and a large soul-swallowing maw. For a touch of nihilism, the blank side wall of the house faces the flat stretch of concrete. The property is edged by thick stands of barren trees — is it winter, or yet another touch of nihilism? — but nothing lives within its boundaries. If this were an actual art installation, that grass would be beige-speckled astroturf.

    Or maybe they ran out of money.

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