John Newman Garden Design

About Us

John Newman

Photo of John Newman

I come by gardening honestly. I grew up with my mother and my grandparents in Albemarle, in the beautiful piedmont of North Carolina. Both of my grandparents were great gardeners. My mother, now in her 82nd year, maintains the home were I grew up and still raises a beautiful vegetable garden every year. My grandfather was mostly interested in vegetables but my grandmother loved ornamental plants and rooted most of the camellias and the azaleas around our house. I was always close at hand. I learned everything important about growing plants from my grandmother; where they like best to grow and how to take care of them. My family reveled in the beauty of nature. Morrow Mountain State Park, in the ancient Uwharrie Mountains, was close by. That's where the Yadkin River meets the Uwharrie River and becomes the Pee Dee River that ultimately flows into the Atlantic Ocean in Georgetown, SC. The plants and the scenery typical of the Blue Ridge Mountains can be found there. Every fall we would take trips to the mountains to see the foliage. My mother and my grandparents greeted every sunlit tree and scene with "ooh's" and "ah's" of unrestrained delight. My grandmother once said that she couldn't understand how anyone who appreciated the beauty of a tree could doubt the divinity of creation.

I studied music in college and law in graduate school. I was lucky to live in Winston-Salem at a house with old poplars, a steep slope and a winding stream. I learned most of what I know about design from trial and error developing that site. Early on, I visited the Japanese garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and bought a small book about Japanese gardening. I immediately realized that the influence of nature in that style of gardening was something I had struggled to pursue all along. With that focus, I strove to integrate my great love of plants with general principles of design. I had the great privilege of taking my first trip to Japan with Cliff Parks of Camellia Forest Nursery in Chapel Hill, NC. I came to do garden design as a profession some 20 years ago, working first for friends and colleagues. My objective is to connect architecture with the larger environment and to integrate interior and exterior space in seamless transition. I bring nature to people. My clients tell me that our work enriches their lives and I believe it is so.

Ian Byers

Photo of Ian Byers

Designer and project leader with John Newman Garden Design, Ian began the study of naturalistic landscaping with John Newman in 2004. In fact, Ian and John go way back to when Ian was 12 years old attending Wake Forest Baptist Church and John was the choir director there. The evocative nature of the Yadkin river, Pilot Mountain, and Hanging rock inspires his craft. He is a pioneer in bringing the art of pebble mosaic to Winston-Salem where his work is installed at numerous locations, both public and private, throughout the city. He lives with his wife, Jill, and their children Samuel-Daye and Vera and their dog, Ruby, the Terrier Over the Rainbow.

Chris Daws

Photo of Ian Byers

Chris is a California native born in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara with degrees in environmental science and business economics. A world traveler, he has lived in Hawaii, traveled extensively in South America and has worked as a snowboard instructor in Lake Tahoe. Chris came to North Carolina with his wife, Snow, a High Point native, who is an orthopedic surgeon completing her residency at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. In 2009, Chris graduated with honors from Forsyth Technical College with a degree in horticulture. He loves the out of doors, fitness and healthy living, but most of all his baby daughter, born June 16, 2011, also named Snow. Chris achieved an impressive showing completing the 2012 Marine Mud Run in 28 minutes.

Eric Kirkman

Eric has the longest history with John Newman Garden Design. He worked with us for 4 years beginning in 2001after graduating from Forsyth Technical College with a degree in horticulture. Then he worked for an advertising agency for 8 years before resuming work with John Newman a year ago. Eric is an excellent designer, an avid plant lover, and is particularly skilled at pruning. He has been active in the boy scouts all his life and continues that work as Assistant Scout Master for the Lewisville troop where he grew up. He loves the out of doors and never misses an opportunity to lead his scout troop on camping and backpacking expeditions. In his spare time, Eric continues to renovate his house.

John Long

Photo of John Long

John Long is the lead stone mason and a project manager with John Newman Garden Design. He has worked with us for 2 years and brings ten years of experience having previously worked in Asheville, NC, with Chandler's Southern Gardens. He has also worked for Earth's Images building outdoor living spaces. Growing up in the Shenandoah Valley and in Asheville and attending Western Carolina University, John draws his inspiration from the mountains of western North Carolina. An Eagle Scout, John has always been a lover of nature and the out of doors. His passion is stone work and he is particularly interested in the art of constructing dry-stack stone walls. His work is remarkable for its structural integrity, craft and sensitivity to the materials he works with. He enjoys spending time with his 10 year old son, Ethan, and his dog, Oden.