Cre­at­ing unity in the gar­den

Gardens Illustrated Magazine - - Artist -

Although Wood­land Farms en­com­passes around 316 acres in to­tal, the Richters have fo­cused their de­sign on an area of just 15 acres im­me­di­ately sur­round­ing the house. Dan Snow’s stone fea­tures have been used through­out this area, as a re­cur­ring mo­tif to cre­ate a sense of unity and to link the gar­den to the moun­tain­ous land­scape. They also pro­vide Wood­land Farms with a dis­tinc­tive per­son­al­ity.

1 Sim­plic­ity

One of the first things the Richters did was to thin out the en­croach­ing wood­land and give the house some breath­ing space. They left a few cho­sen spec­i­men trees, such as ma­ture maples, to link the gar­den with the wider land­scape and to bring the fabulous colours of the New Eng­land au­tumn into the gar­den. On the hill above the house, the Richters have cre­ated a small or­chard with sim­ple paths mown into the rough grass. Here they have planted new trees – un­usual ap­ples, such as ‘Ash­meads Ker­nel’, ‘Bea­con’ and ‘Yel­low Trans­par­ent’, which they grow or­gan­i­cally, along with peaches, pears, Asian pears, plums and cher­ries. They have also made a sim­ple ar­bour from lo­cust wood to sup­port a north­ern-hardy kiwi, Ac­tini­dia arguta ‘Geneva 2’ and closer to the house, dwarf conifers con­tinue the woody theme with­out cre­at­ing shade or com­pet­ing with the ex­pres­sive stonework.

2 Bal­ance

Dan’s boul­ders help to bring a sense of the wilder­ness right up to the Richters’ door, but they are bal­anced by soft plant­ing. Su­san asked Dan to in­clude plant­ing pock­ets for low-grow­ing plants, such as Euphor­bia myrsinites, within the rough ter­race that he cre­ated from slabs of quar­ried gran­ite. She also re­quested the cen­tral box-like struc­ture to con­tain a group of dwarf conifers, which re­flect the sur­round­ing woods, as does the Ginkgo biloba ‘ChiChi’ be­hind, which later in the au­tumn will turn a beau­ti­ful shade of gold.

3 Scale

In such a vast land­scape where the sur­round­ings are apt to dwarf build­ings, let alone plants, us­ing mas­sive boul­ders for the ter­race helps to bal­ance out dis­tant views and bring the hill­side ge­ol­ogy into the fore­ground. At the same time, stone seat­ing and chair-shaped boul­ders add to the rocky theme. On the south-fac­ing side of the stone-and-tim­ber house, Su­san keeps the plant­ing light and loose with low­er­grow­ing peren­ni­als, such as Paeo­nia ‘Gar­den Trea­sure’ and P. lac­t­i­flora ‘Le Jour’. The stone keeps main­te­nance to a min­i­mum and is soft­ened by low-grow­ing grasses, such as Hakonechloa macra ‘Aure­ola’, and shrubs, in­clud­ing Hy­drangea pan­ic­u­lata ‘Tar­diva’ and Ste­wartia pseu­do­camel­lia.

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