IN JANUARY, when the air is calm, the trees glisten with snow, and the ground crunches under foot, I enjoy taking Lily the Beagle for brisk walks. Would you like to see what we see when we tour the gardens here? Walk with us.
We’ve just opened the gate, and entered the Rose Garden. Although I didn’t plant this garden with winter-interest in mind, I certainly achieved it. In snowy January, the turned-off fountains transform themselves into triple-tiered wedding cakes.
The garden is even more dashing when viewed from my upstairs guest-room. In summer, the boxwood hedges form ribbons of green around the beds of fragrant roses. In winter, they make a strong architectural statement.
And incidentally, I achieved most of my boxwood from cuttings. It is a cinch to propagate.
I don’t like to let snow linger on the yews. Why? Because their branches bend beneath the frosty weight. And when the snow freezes, the branches can break. Later today, I’ll head out with a broom and relieve the shrubs of their white burden.
Would you like to see the Rose Garden in summer? Here it is, on a fragrant day in June.
Let’s leave the Rose Garden now, and head up the hill.
And by the way, it wasn’t very wise of you to wear 4-inch stilettos on this tour, was it? Better take my arm.
The path up the hill leads to a grove of white pines. I cut a demi-lune opening through the boughs last summer, in order to create a pass-through to the path and statue beyond. The steps on the right lead to the north gate of the swimming pool. We’ll visit that pool in a moment.
We are heading west now, toward the pair of urns and the headless statue of Venus di Milo (read her sad story). On the right is a row of arborvitaes that frame the north side of the Pool Garden. If you study these shrubs for a moment, you’ll notice birds flitting in and out of them. Arborvitaes — like all tall, shrubby evergreens — provide the birds with shelter in winter, and nesting-quarters in spring and summer.
I can assure you those birds are watching us very carefully right now.
Make a right past the statue, and we’ll find ourselves face to face with the Kitchen Garden. Planted at each corner is ‘Cayuga,’ the most fragrant member of the Viburnum clan. In winter the shrub it makes a pleasant silhouette against the snow.
The Kitchen Garden, looking through its gate. The raised beds, the urns, the Adirondack-type chairs and the arbor all contribute structural elements to the winter vista. I hope you can visit this easy-to-maintain garden in summer. It is a riot of color and productivity.
Opposite the Kitchen Garden is the Pool Garden. Framing the fence are young hemlocks which will eventually form a hedge. They wear their winter-frocks very well. I never remove snow from these evergreens — their branches are flexible and strong.
Although these statues look old, they are not. My friend Michael Laudati applied a simple wash that aged them instantly.
Would you like to see how I designed and planted the Woodland Garden? The details — with lots of pictures — are here.
It’s getting a little too cold now. Shall we head back to the house?
Here is a rear-view of the house (with its many roof-tops), as seen from the Kitchen Garden. Between the Music Room wing and the old kitchen wing of the house is the Herb Garden. This garden will prove that you can do something amazing with very little space.
Now, instead of sliding down the steep hill — you and your stilettos! — I think we should make our descent via the Serpentine Garden.
I designed the Serpentine Garden on the steepest slope of the property. Its winding path is very gentle, each step rising no greater than 3 inches. The garden may not look like much to you just now, but trust me — in spring it is (to my eyes, anyway) simply stunning.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this little tour as much as Lily and I did. Perhaps you can let me know by leaving a comment.
Meanwhile, let’s head into the parlor. There, a roaring fire, a pot of tea and freshly-baked scones await us.
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