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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.