A place to gather for friends and family
Cape Cod Home / Early Summer 2018 / Home, Garden & Design, People & Businesses
Writer: Julie Craven Wagner / Photographer: Paige Biviano
Paul Miskovsky takes a family’s vision and makes it a fantastic reality
Paul Miskovsky, owner of Miskovsky Landscaping, Inc. in Falmouth, is never shy when it comes to talking with strangers about gardening. So when one day he approached a homeowner who was tending to her garden across the street from one of his projects, it’s no surprise to discover their conversation evolved into a deep and meaningful experience.
Olya Baryski was working in her garden, taking regular breaks between her weeding and watering to catch her breath by sitting on the seat of her walker. Miskovsky, not only to extend polite inquiry, but mostly due to genuine curiosity, was drawn to a gardener who would toil in the dirt despite needing a walker to safely navigate her yard.
“Anytime I see someone out in the garden, I just have to stop and say hello and say God bless them. You know it’s sort of a lost art these days,” Miskovsky recalls. “We just hit it off immediately and she said, ‘One day I am going to have you build me a garden.’ I hear that from so many people, but sure enough, a few months later she called and we sat down to make a plan.” Olya remembers it with a bit more passion, but equally as profound. “I had become intrigued with my neighbor’s new landscape as I watched it evolve, and there was something so different about it. So when Paul came over and introduced himself to me, I felt an instant connection.” she says. “The following spring I decided my yard definitely needed a major overhaul with new plantings and some reorganization.”
Miskovsky began by transforming the circular driveway and front façade of the home, including adding new native trees and shrubs. An underpinning of low-growing evergreens had an added bonus of filling the garden during the warmer months but, as Olya discovered, created a beautiful and artistic landscape through the winter months. “The skillful selection of trees, shrubs and plantings based on color and texture keeps the garden alive during those dreary months,” she says.
Olya, born in the Ukraine, immigrated to the United States from France with her family in the middle of the 20th century. She has always loved growing fresh vegetables, herbs and flowers and takes tremendous pride in cooking for her family. As the years marched on, it was harder and harder to maintain the robust gardens she had always loved. Miskovsky put some thought and ingenuity into action and created ‘Olya’s Magic Garden,’ a courtyard complete with several substantial raised beds at waist height–the perfect level to tend while resting on a walker seat. Later, a discussion of how Olya might like to sit in her secret garden when her sisters and best friend visit led to the installation of a pergola over the garden to provide shade. As is often the case when a homeowner has a discussion with Miskovsky, his easy way of listening and exchanging ideas is bound to lead to another new project.
“My son Paul and his wife Leah were thrilled with the decision to call Paul Miskovsky, so I was happy to let them have major input during this entire project,” Olya says. While communicating with Miskovsky about what he would like to accomplish, Paul Baryski expressed the feeling he gets when he visits a lush resort, particularly as he explores the grounds and finds places to sit and chat, places to get a drink, or a secluded grotto or unexpected water feature. Soon a vision began to take shape, and beyond that vision a strong foundation for a special friendship took hold.
The next phase of the project began with an area that had originally been designated for barbecuing and dining. After some laughs and examination of spirit, the space instead became a whimsical tiki bar. Throughout the entire project, as Miskovsky and the Baryskis became closer, the family’s nostalgia for John Baryski, Olya’s husband who passed away several years ago, always influenced the discussion of how the property could best be used. Thus it was determined that the tiki bar would be named in honor of Johnny. Miskovsky immediately thought of a local Falmouth artistic talent who would be perfect to craft the custom signage. “Paul told me about an artist who could make a sign so it looked like the transom of a boat—Ronnie Reasonover. Paul made the introduction and Ronnie nailed it. My father would have loved it!” Paul Baryski says.
Miskovsky, who some consider to be an artist himself when it comes to his talents working with stone in his landscapes, identified a substantial six-foot piece of Goshen stone to serve as the bar top. Off of the bar, a peastone area was identified for an oversized fire pit surrounded by a comfortable seating area. “It was tricky,” recalls Miskovsky. “You want a fire pit that can keep you warm on cool summer nights, so I had to find one that threw enough heat. Then we realized we didn’t have enough gas service for a pit that large. So we brought a new gas line in from the street, through the house and out the other side. There was a lot of wrangling to pull everything together like we had planned.” Ultimately Miskovsky ended up with a project that utilizes 450,000 BTUs, through a 2-inch gas line.
The improvements didn’t stop there. Another mammoth piece of Goshen stone was identified that Miskovsky says would take the heat of this customized pit. He and his crew shaped the stone into a 6-foot top with a 24-inch opening, placing it upon a dry-laid, stacked stonewall in order to provide enough air for the fire to breathe. Additional oversized Goshen stone pavers contrast against clamshell fill, while also setting the mood of a relaxed beachside setting.
Paul Baryski says that he added a bit of technology to the project with his introduction of a fully wired outdoor Sonos audio system. “There is a gentle wave of sound across the property, that even-tempered sort of background music you get when you are at a resort.” Another subtle component is the extensive lighting found throughout the garden and pathways. “It fundamentally changed our relationship with the property. There was never a reason to go outside at night, but now, between the fire pit that Paul built, the lighting, the music and the bar, it has created usable space well into the night,” he says.
“My parents were fortunate to find this property when it was affordable and build this home just over 30 years ago,” he adds. “The landscape choices we have made and implemented enable people to spend quality time together. Everything that we were able to dream up, Paul Miskovsky would figure out a way to do it and make it happen.”
The special friendship extends to the entire family. Olya says everyone involved put their stamp on the project. “My son Paul, my daughter-in-law Leah, my other son Andrew, Miskovsky’s whole crew and even my sweet husband, everyone is a part of this project. And Paul Miskovsky, although he was an artist with a specific vision for our yard, he was always accommodating and flexible during the project, and now he is a close friend of our family.”