This project has allowed me to integrate my work and my vision with
the capabilities of an enormous number of talented craftspeople.
Without their abilities, my garden making would not be possible.
This collaboration is at the heart of my design philosophy, and it
is a philosophy shared by my clients. Otherwise, why would they call
Here we have a garden by the sea, inspired by a love of gardens,
informed by an understanding of garden history, and filled with a
superb collection of plant material. The site by the Atlantic Ocean
offers the challenges of terrain, wind, and salt air. The property
is shaped by nature, but skillfully manipulated by man.
The main house sits on a twenty or thirty foot bluff overlooking the
sea. The pond house is at the lowest part of the property and
adjoins Georgica Pond. In between is a series of garden rooms
outstanding in their diversity. Each is discrete yet an integral
part of the entire garden picture.
There is a White Garden, enclosed by clipped yews and filled with
boxwood patterns. Those familiar with great gardens will be reminded
of the white garden at Sissinghurst. Much as Vita Sackville-West's
tower overlooked that garden, here at Woody House, a tower, housing
an artist's studio, looks down in the White Garden.
The piers and lanterns at its entrance were inspired by those in an
old Atlanta garden, the memory of which I tucked away, knowing one
day I would find the perfect place to recreate that pleasing scene.
Leaving the White Garden, one uses the Mediterranean Walk, which
serves as the vertebra of the garden. On one side is a slightly wild
planting suitable to the rugged natural oceanside terrain. On the
other side, clipped shrubs and herbaceous plants form a border
between the walk and the Mediterranean garden. Walk under the
pergola supported by a series of stacked stone columns.
The Mediterranean Garden is called that because it has a bold color
scheme reflecting colors typical of gardens in that region. The
focal point is a fountain, a found object, a pebble and cement piece
done in 1901 in Maine and, in my opinion, the perfect thing. You
could have thought forever and designed forever, but what
serendipity to find something that fits into the design vernacular
you're carrying out. I didn't want the fountain to sit in a basin of
water, so I designed a stone base where the water drains before
recirculating. It adds mystery to the garden. One doesn't know where
the water comes from and where it's going.
The totally enclosed Mughal Garden is influenced by garden design of
Persia and northern India. The garden is divided into four quadrants
by a central canal, a classic garden concept. There is arbor under
which one can sit away from the sun, listen to the water, and absorb
the fragrance of the garden.
A typical feature of a Mughal garden would have been a beautifully
patterned rug mosaic. Here, the rug has been reimagined by an artist
and created using over 5000 pieces of intricately cut brick. It is
typical of ancient gardens - Renaissance, Roman, Persian - to use
materials other than plants in the art of pattern making. The mosaic
path at the cross axis is a combination of pebble and brick, and
leads to more pattern in the brick walls.
The canal is an essential element, and here my client raises lotus.
The geyser, which serves as the focal point of the water garden, is
a stylized interpretation of a lotus blossom. There is a balcony,
providing that essential feature, a place to view the garden. We
cantilevered it over the canal so that one could view the garden
from above. Beneath it is a fountain, the head of an elephant carved
by Simon Verity, which spits water into the canal.
A gate leads you down the steps of intricate stonework into the
first level of the Italian garden, inspired by the gardens of the
Italian Renaissance. The steps are sheltered with tall walls in
which nestles a surprise, shell-shaped benches, in turn encrusted
with shells, commissioned of English sculptor Simon Verity. Actually
we only commissioned the benches. The design was his own, and in
their own playful way they evoke the birth of Venus as rendered by
The grotto is a new addition to the garden, another example of how
the garden is never finished. Again, it was a commission to Simon
Verity. It is on axis with the pool and it serves both as a grotto
and as a folly, as is typical of classic garden design. The pool
itself is both a functional pool for swimming and a garden feature.
The Italian garden continues down to a lower level, where quadrants
edged with box form flower beds and specimen trees of citrus and
clipped box are grown in pots. Two of the quadrants are filled with
large olive jars turned into water geysers, providing again
reference to the gardens of the Italian Renaissance with the playful
use of water. This particular design was inspired by the gardens at
the Villa d'Este.
A rustic gate brings you to the feature of the garden which has been
implemented the longest, a series of iron hoops, very reminiscent of
Monet's garden at Giverny. The hoops form the framework for a
voluptuous garden scene all about roses. Clematis and herbaceous
plant material are integrated into the scene and keep the garden in
wonderful color all summer, but it is the roses that are the show.
The color palette moves from riotous to calm, all skillfully and
thoughtfully planned out, with the permanent plant material and
bedded in plant material weaving together to create the picture.
Past the hoops one reaches the Cottage Garden created around the
pond house, once a boat house servicing adjacent Georgica Pond. The
Cottage Garden is full of self-sowing annuals, peonies, iris, and
other plant material which seems at home in a cottage setting.
To the left are the Monet beds backed by wild rugged vegetation.
These beds are planned to fulfill a superb color scheme with the
purpose of wonderful fall color. Espaliered apple trees enclose the
garden. Another feature here, inspired by Rosemary Verey's knot
garden at Barnsley House, is the knot garden, this one made of
boxwood and euonymous.
Here as everywhere, we have places to sit. The settee was inspired
by a set of furniture from an old garden in Crawford, Georgia. I
commissioned the settee and its companions to provide seating which
would have more charm than pieces like the Adirondack chairs so
commonly used. The gentle curves give these seats a cottage charm
befitting their setting.
The way out of all these gardens is back to the driveway, the
arrival point, and here we put in a pear tunnel, a manipulated
effect. My client had always wanted a tunnel, and this was the
perfect spot. It was purchased from a superb nursery which
specializes in such effects, and we added to its sumptuousness by
planting it with Clematis 'Etoile d'Violette', choosing a
small-flowering clematis so the blossoms wouldn't overpower those of
Each of these garden spaces is nestled into its own pocket and bears
the imprint of its own influences. As one garden space leads to
another and another, they provide a visually rich experience. Each
room stands alone as an individual expression of good garden making,
and as a whole, they create a complete garden picture.