Outside Homes: Like a Walk in a Park

by Dara Klatt
Frank Islam and Debbie Driesman in the front entrance of their home, which includes six multi- stemmed large Natchez Crape Myrtles symmetrically located on each side of the house. Large trees, Crape Myrtles and Arborvitaes are surrounded by variegated liriope, ajuga groundcovers, Hemerocallis perennials and Rozanne geraniums. Photo by Tony Powell.
Part of the stream in the woodlands which includes plants such as Wild blue phlox, Dwarf Japanese maple, ferns, Iris, Hydrangeas and Daylilies. Photo by Tony Powell.
Koi fish from the pond. Photo by Tony Powell.
The statue is “just one we liked that was the appropriate size” Driesman say. Photo by Tony Powell.
Snowball viburnum. Photo by Tony Powell.
The couple’s Henry VIII-style garden was inspired by the gardens at Hampton Court in England. The landscape was designed and is maintained by Lewis Aquatech. Besim Cafer is the design director. Three full-time landscapers manage the site. Photo by Tony Powell.

Frank Islam and Debbie Driesman’s expansive, nine-acre Potomac, Md. oasis

Before guests even step inside Frank Islam and Debbie Driesman’s 47,000-square-foot manor house, they are often astounded by the lush outdoor retreat that greets them. With more than 10,000 trees, several hundred thousand blooming plants, a reflecting pool on the front of the property inspired by the Taj Mahal, a koi pond on a fish terrace as well as a water stream and lower semi-formal quasi-knot garden, the result is in a class by itself.

Apart from being dumbstruck at the sweeping green grandeur, the visitor’s response is “along the lines of they’ve never seen anything like it,” Driesman says.

The philanthropic couple, who have hosted events for the Library of Congress, the Kennedy Center, Interfaith Works and the Montgomery County Public Schools Educational Foundation as well as the Democratic Party, are accustomed to setting up bars on the outdoor terraces so that guests can soak up the natural masterpiece and even walk through the grounds on their own. Now while parties are paused and social distancing endures, the greenery—in all its splendid serenity—is enjoyed by only two.

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