Archives For Mario Nievera

What’s the one thing you can do to transform your landscape? It’s a matter of vision, one expert explains below. Get even more tips from the pros at the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Antiques, Garden & Design Show. Did we mention that there will be shopping?  

PHOTO: Entry design by Nievera Williams Design.

A well-designed path is a strong visual element. Photo courtesy Nievera Williams Design.

If you do only one thing…

Even if your house is small, think about your grounds holistically. “You want to be able to walk inside the home and walk back outside and feel like it’s a seamless experience,” says landscape architect Mario Nievera, a featured speaker at the Antiques, Garden & Design Show. “If it’s a modern, clean home, the plants should be clean as well. If the home has character and charm, you can use more leaves and texture. When planning your hardscape, if the home has stone or tile inside, you want to use complementary materials outside. The same goes for furnishings and outdoor fabrics.”

PHOTO: Garden design by Nievera Williams Design.

Garden ornaments add a sense of scale in a garden. Photo courtesy Nievera Williams Design.

Point of view

“You have to have a strong visual element in a garden, whether it’s a stand of birch trees, one plant that is repeated, or a well-designed path—it ties it all together,” says Nievera, whose firm is based in Palm Beach, Florida. “People tend to focus on the small scale, but your garden should be based on your view.”

Lights and accents and more

To freshen up the look of a garden, Nievera works with clients to incorporate garden ornaments. “We do a lot of contemporary designs, and garden ornaments give you a sense of scale, patina, and character,” he says.

Get inspired

Go to flea markets, antique shows, or established gardens, and check out Pinterest to get ideas on design styles or objects to add to your garden, adds landscape architect Craig Bergmann, who designed indoor gardens for the Show.

PHOTO: Container design by Craig Bergmann Landscape Design.

Mix old and new for a bold look. Photo ©Linda Oyama Bryan

Mixing old and new

Even if your house is modern, think about using antique elements—but consider your climate, says Bergmann, whose firm is based in Lake Forest. “Some fine antiques are fragile and don’t do well in severe weather changes that happen here in Chicago,” he says. “Hairline cracks might be exacerbated with frequent moving of a piece, or by sub-zero temperatures or high heat or humidity. Some high-end pieces need to be stored for winter indoors or on a protected terrace or porch.”

Bonus tip on shopping at the Antiques, Garden & Design Show

Be prepared to act quickly. Bring pictures of your house and garden, and consult with the vendors. The Show features more than 90 vendors of garden antiques, antiques, horticulture, and more from around the United States and Europe.

“I like looking at shows like this because you know you are getting the real deal, not reproductions,” Nievera says. “I will take pictures of things my clients might want and tell them they have five minutes to decide if they like it. You have to make your decisions quickly because you might lose it.”

PHOTO: Craig Bergmann Landscape Design, Redfield Residence, Lake Forest.

Visit a variety of sources to add objects to—and develop the look of—your garden. Photo ©Linda Oyama Bryan


Tickets are on sale now for spring’s most anticipated event, the Antiques, Garden & Design Show. The event takes place at the Chicago Botanic Garden from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday through Sunday, April 15 to 17. Additional fees apply for the lectures.


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