One of my gardens is part of the Friends of Frelinghuysen fall garden tour on September 19th. Registration for the self guided tour is open until September 15th and will feature 5 private gardens rarely open to the public in Summit and Short Hills.
The landscape and gardens I designed are a complex mix of distinct areas – not rooms. Each has its own unique character and performs a specific function yet they all hold together as a whole. The property, about 2 acres, was first landscaped in the 1920s when the original Norman style Tudor home was built. The current owners doubled the size of the house and called me to design the landscape. I love working on American Tudors.
Here are three of the larger areas. The first is a restored and augmented woodland. We removed weedy trees and as much of the original pachysandra as we could and added a bluestone stepping path through it. We also added ferns, dogwoods, Solomon’s seal and moved all of the shade loving white blooming and white variegated shrubs and perennials to this area of the property. The woodland shields much of the corner view in and out of the house from the street and helps to create a sense of mystery. There is an entrance across the lawn from one of the two adjacent streets through a mature row of hemlocks (all of which were exceedingly healthy).
On the opposite side of the property the renovation and expansion left a mass of exposed utilities adjacent the existing pool. How pretty..not! I designed some simple trellis work and installed it to complement the French style of the home and hide the eyesores. I also enlarged the pool deck to allow for some furniture. It had been 3′ wide with a 6′ deep rhododendron filled garden with no place to sit or entertain.
A garden was created on the opposite side of the pool which is the primary view point from the home’s livingroom. Large containers were installed and bricks were faux painted to match those on the house and a classic scheme of roses and hydranges interspersed with perennials was installed. It blooms all summer long.
One of the most challenging aspects of this project was the front courtyard. The renovation had used up most of the available impermeable lot coverage allowance and we used what was left for the pool deck. The front door of the home is only used for guests so massive amounts of foot traffic wasn’t an issue. There was broken bluestone left over from construction on site, so we created a ‘ruined’ courtyard complete with espaliered apple trees.
Other areas not shown are a daylily walk and a circular garden that helps camouflage the family’s trampoline. There are some beautiful specimen trees that were added to the exisiting mature red oaks. An old planting of hostas on the front slope of courtyard was also preserved and the original stone steps up to it were excavated and tied into the entry from the lawn. This remains one of my favorite projects and I’m really proud to have it included on this tour.