Friday, 23 December 2011

Two gardens in New Jersey

Superb placement: Bismarckia nobilis
Among the many gardens I saw on my American tour in September one of the most captivating was that of Silas Mountsier in Nutley, New Jersey, an acre of fine design and solid structure, with the summer planting being almost entirely in shades of green. In creating the garden Silas has been assisted for nearly twenty years by Richard Hartlage - he of the wonderful Calycanthus x raulstonii 'Hartlage Wine', bred in his time at the then North Carolina State University Arboretumn (now JC Raulston Arboretum), and with a solid background in real gardening, but now a landscape architect based in Seattle. The collaborative result is delightful: exciting yet peaceful at the same time. The garden has been much written about, as a web search will show. Here are a few pictures that I hope capture something of its charm and the attention to detail that has gone into it.

Strong structure in shades of green: Silas Mountsier's garden, Nutley, New Jersey

The garden houses a large collection of sculptures and other artworks, carefully placed in the landscape - or the landscaping is carefully placed around them.

A broad bank planted entirely in clones of Hakonechloa macra, subtly different in both summer and when sere in winter. It is strimmed off in late winter before daffodils emerge from below it.


Dramatic foliage in Graham Hardie's garden.

Remarkably, however, the Mountsier garden is one of a pair. His partner, Graham Hardie, has his own house across the street, and here he and Richard Hartlage have created another remarkable and beautiful space. In this case, however, the planting is in vibrant colours and textures from flowers and foliage - though all combined with remarkable touch. Lushness there is, but it's not overwhelming and although bright it's not gaudy: the planting is controlled by strong lines and structural shapes that prevent it from becoming just a jungle. Though very different, the two gardens, like their owners, complement each other and make a great couple. I thank Silas and Graham for a lovely afternoon.


Contrasts in form, texture and colour in the Hardie garden: lush but controlled.

Roadside planting in Graham Hardie's garden: the standards are Euonymus.

1 comment:

  1. Amazing photos, of outstanding beauty. They can only make one happy, to look at.
    Best regards, Fie.

    ReplyDelete