A Blanket of White: The Magic of a Winter Snow Landscape

Snow Landscape
Photography by Andre Baranowski

By Tovah Martin

For landscape designer Jorge Sanchez snow is something to be savored.

Can you imagine what Jorge Sanchez’s first winter in Pennsylvania was like as a student at Villanova University? Born in Cuba and growing up in Florida, he’d never witnessed a snowfall before. At a young age, Jorge realized he always had a fascination with open spaces, but it was the evolution of space throughout the changing seasons that captivated him up north. He warmed to the chilly earth laid bare, and the light play on the barren land. Then, the first flakes came down, and the plot thickened. “I was absorbed by the loudness of no sound after a snowfall,” Jorge recalls of his first brush with flakes. “In the distance, you could hear the cracking of a branch.” Because of his experiences, landscape designer Jorge Sanchez celebrates the echoes of winter like nobody else.

Drawn out into the blanketed countryside, part of his college education was accomplished exploring the rolling terrain of Pennsylvania in a season he had never experienced before. And when he met and married his wife, Serina, he spent time on Long Island, New York, coming face-to-face with formal landscapes etched in snow. It was “the mixture of form and wilderness” that lured him into landscape design from the beginning.

Wooden risers make this riding trail and footpath accessible in winter weather. (Photography by Andre Baranowski)

Although his business, SMI Landscape Architecture, is based in Florida, Jorge welcomes any opportunity to work with winter when the artistry beneath a garden is revealed. The season has taught him many lessons, which he practiced in this Westchester County, New York, landscape. “If you walk into a garden that’s totally symmetrical, it feels boring and amateurish,” Jorge says. “It needs to be unbalanced.” Winter scenes tell it all.

“Winter is forgiving,” Jorge likes to say, because it muffles the hard edges, but it also has a romance unlike any other time of year. Jorge has the reason for the allure all figured out. “It’s the absence of people,” he explains. “You are eavesdropping on nature.” An observer can watch how the snow lies on stone and how the flakes bond the bricks together in white fluff; no other season offers that level of hushed intimacy.