Biz Bio: Elizabeth Blye Delaney, landscape architect

This landscape architect wants to take your breath away

By Anita L. Sherman

Courtesy photo
Elizabeth Blye Delaney is a Landscape Architect with decades of experience and an eye for classic design. She likes creating the big picture. Courtesy photo

As a young girl, Elizabeth Blye Delaney loved the outdoors. She relished in the colors, shapes and textures that nature provided and knew early on that her life’s work would involve creating unique spaces outside.

“I always loved the art of the built form,” says Delaney with a laugh. “I couldn’t have been an architect because the scale was too small…I wanted to work on a bigger scale…like when an inch equals 10 feet.”

A graduate of the University of Virginia School of Architecture and with a Master in Landscape Architecture, Delaney has worked in her field since her 20s, primarily for large firms in and around the Charlottesville and Lynchburg areas.

Two years ago, she made the decision to go solo and has had no regrets.

“I’ve always had this notion of myself as the Grand Dame of landscape architecture,” says Delaney, who loves the freedom of working on her own at whatever hour suits her. “I have a lot of creative energy at night,” she says of many projects that have come her way through referrals. She enjoys that every job is different.

“I feel that I can bring a lot to the table,” says Delaney of her love of native hardwoods and creating habitats that attract not only your eye and spirit but butterflies, birds, bees, and lots of beauty.

Currently, she drives from Charlottesville for a project in Rappahannock on 25 acres south of Sperryville for two physicians, Dr. Jean Cairns, an obstetrician and gynecologist, and Dr. Paul Musselman, a urologist, who have both moved to Virginia from Ohio.

To contact Elizabeth Blye Delaney: 434-851-2021;

“They have great views…we’re building a new farmhouse…big barn…a pool unifies the landscape…wall terraces…artscape,” says Delaney noting, “and no grass.”

“We have a wildflower meadow running through the whole site on large parcels…there is no grass to just need to bushhog twice a year…it’s stunning and such good habitats.”

“We’ve come up with some very creative solutions for the property, it’s an interesting mix…we have a big installation of plants in a week or so.”  

“The owners are wonderful and very receptive to my suggestions…the project is going very well.”

Delaney is quite taken with Rappahannock and plans to open a satellite office in Washington.

“I love the area.”

With more than 30 landscape architects in Charlottesville, Delaney sees a need in the Piedmont area. Licensed in the State of Virginia, she hopes to get more business and eventually settle into one of Rappahannock’s small cabins and call this place home.  

Specializing in the renovation of historic buildings, Delaney has a fondness for old structures.

“If they are structurally sound, there is a lot that can be done,” says Delaney who also loves interiors.

“I consider myself a very good designer…I can see the lay of the land and what should happen here and there…there are lots of ways to sculpt the land to your advantage…I tend to visualize things in 3-D,” muses Delaney who creates her landscape designs as works of art.

“Really like a painting…painting with a landscape.”

Landscape architecture fits Delaney’s personality perfectly. With a trained eye, she focuses on what looks good and what works as she analyzes each situation.

“I lean toward understated elegance,” says Delaney, “I want to take your breath away.”

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