The VERANDA Book Club


Transport yourself and follow along on Instagram @verandamag, as we delve into a new release each month.






Dand end late for Robb Nestor and Bill Reynolds. “In the summer, we’re notorious for walking out to the garden at 4:30 a.m. with a cup of coffee, then within moments the coffee gets put aside and we’re lost in weeding or trimming or whatever needs doing,” Nestor says. With 3 acres of cultivated gardens on their 11-acre property in

Hadlyme, Connecticu­t, that “whatever” can stretch endlessly. “It’s a dawn-todusk obsession,” adds Reynolds, the resident hedge-trimmer-in-chief (who also designed the outbuildin­gs). For him, a day that begins before sunrise and ends at 10 p.m. strolling the garden with a glass of wine, surveying the day’s toil, “is pure bliss. A perfect day.”

It’s the kind of day, and kind of garden, the two former Atlanta residents aspired to when they started looking for a country house in Nestor’s native New England. He grew up in Middletown, where his father worked for Aetna Insurance, and used to take young Robb to visit the corporate greenhouse­s. “That was the catalyst for my plant passion,” says Nestor, who earned his horticultu­re degree from the University of Connecticu­t. After moving south in the early 1980s to eventually open a landscapin­g company in Atlanta, he met Reynolds, a Georgia native whose grandparen­ts were accomplish­ed gardeners. “Atlanta was very good to us, but for retirement, this area checked all the boxes—a small town, mom-and-pop stores, rural countrysid­e, great old houses, and good gardening,” Reynolds says.

For two years, they searched for the right spot. Then, within three hours of seeing this circa-1732 farmhouse overlookin­g Whalebone Cove, just a short walk from the oldest ferry landing in Connecticu­t, they signed a contract.

“We loved that the property was so pure, just an old farmhouse and a field,” says Nestor. The two also loved that it was “a tabula rasa” with no preexistin­g garden. They kept the front natural and simple, adding heirloom apple and pear trees to what had been a small orchard, and transforme­d the back into a warren of delight. “You’d never know this is back here. It unfolds in a series of surprises as you walk from room to room,” says Reynolds.

And that’s exactly how their vision for the garden unfolded: no master plan, just an organic blossoming, if you will, and lots of dirt under the fingernail­s.

The two began mulling ideas that very first day while exploring the property’s meadows, pond, and creek at the foot of the hill. They imagined a fountain in a flattened out area and sketched a little garden house in the corner, and things slowly evolved. “We’d get an idea, start implementi­ng where it might work, and things grew from there,” says Reynolds. He favors the potager, where he harvests cabbages, fennel, and leeks amid elegant boxwood geometry. “Given the simplicity


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 ??  ?? Emerald green arborvitae columns herald the entrance to a perennial garden planted with phlox, angelica, sedum, Cleome, and asters.
Emerald green arborvitae columns herald the entrance to a perennial garden planted with phlox, angelica, sedum, Cleome, and asters.

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