Artiface and Artifacts

Last Saturday, fellow designer Jane Derickson and I headed to the rolling hills of  western New Jersey to visit gardens.   Over the years I have visited many, many gardens and it’s rare that one sticks with me because its vision and individuality.

Entrance to the greenhouse gardens

It was the first of several gardens we visited and it made the others pale in comparison.  Perhaps, for me, it was because it was a design oriented garden rather than a plant centric garden.  Yes, there were interesting plants used in compelling ways, but more than that there was a cohesive designer’s vision.

View from the kitchen

Andrea Fillipone and William Welch, who together make up Tendenze Design, have created something remarkable on 10 acres in Pottersville.  Theirs is a garden laced with so many historic and geographic stylistic references that with a more heavy hand it would not hold together on its own.  Everything, down to the placement of the smallest pamphlet on a side table seems considered.

Side entrance to the main house

Not only is it a fully realized visual statement, but the totality of the space both inside and out has a dreamlike quality that continually evokes a different time and place–but not anywhere specific.  Each garden area has its own identity and its own look within the formal context.  Vignettes abound since Tendenze is also the location of the owners antiques business.

Pair of chairs in the greenhouse 'emporium'
In the main house

Color is used in bold swaths and often in shades of blue or buff.  Blue fences and plants are juxtaposed with tan gravel and stone–even the farm truck (one that I covet) is  blue.  Periodically,  this soothing palette is punctuated with acid yellow.

Blue and tan
Alchemilla and Nepeta

The gardens themselves are formally laid out with some axis’ skewed so that the central axial point isn’t revealed until you reach it while others allow a long view.  Structures are geometric and add gravity to an already very serious vision.

Garden Shed

If there was something the garden lacked, it was a sense of play and whimsy.  If there is such a thing as being too serious–this garden borders on being too serious–but in this case, serious is a great thing.

Grand axis through the potager to the greenhouses
The potager

10 thoughts on “Artiface and Artifacts

  1. Beautifully written review!
    You are right re humour, but there who cares? Exactly!

    Thank you Robert. A little humor now and then…

  2. Wow, I’d love to see this garden. Pottersville, NJ, you say? Who’d’a thunk it. It looks like it’s right out of the hills of Fiesole… without the hills. Is the garden open to the public, Susan, or did you have special dispensation to visit?

    It was a Garden Conservancy Open Days garden. It’s open a few times a year–the antiques ‘shop’ by appointment I’m sure.

  3. Geeze-Louise! That is something.

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful space. My goodness – it’s breathtaking.

    It was inspiring…hope to see you at Blog Out Loud next week!

  4. Love your critique of this garden, Susan! I think the (mostly) natural plant forms help keep the geometry of the space from being too “stuffy”.

    I don’t usually review gardens as much as describe them. Thinking of changing my slant permanently. I agree about the plants btw.

  5. I was at the Native Plants in the Landscape conference. Darn. Missed it again. I’m hoping I have another chance later this season. I seem to recall another opening listed in the Conservancy’s guide. Thanks for the photos and the review.

    James, it’s totally worth the visit. Let me know if you go — I’ll meet you there!

  6. “some axis’ skewed so that the central axial point isn’t revealed until you reach it”

    Most intriguing sounding aspect of the design, to my mind. Obviously a very beautiful garden in every way. When I imagine designing gardens, I think such things as the overall layout pivoting on a central axis can perhaps remove the element of surprise. I would love to experience this garden to see an example of what sounds to be a creative plan.

    And I would love to show you our gardens here Alice! Maybe next time you’re NYC way…

  7. Very interesting garden! I like formal garden elements. Thank you for the great pictures and the review!

    You are most welcome Tatana. It’s a beautiful peaceful place with lots to look at and one of the most intriguing formal gardens I’ve seen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *