Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button

A garden narrative grows this weekend

What does it take to make a good garden? Sunlight, water, fertile ground … the basics most of us know.

But what makes a great one? The Washington, D.C.-based Cultural Landscape Foundation may provide some answers for home gardeners with a new program called “Garden Dialogues.”

The seminars introduce visitors to garden owners and their landscape architects, who will talk about the collaborative process of designing an exceptional garden.

The program was launched nationally in April, but it kicks off in Connecticut on Saturday, June 9, with events at private homes in Greenwich and New Canaan.

Janice Parker, of Sherman-based Janice Parker Landscape Design, intends to be at the participating New Canaan garden, where she and the client created a space inspired by an Italian vineyard.

Across the rambling five acres, one can find a terrace for entertaining, a tennis court, a pool and a vegetable garden. A number of trees also are featured, including flowering cherry and crab apple.

Parker said although she enjoys working on public projects that benefit hundreds of thousands of people, there is something rewarding about working with a client to transform a private space.

“It can be very satisfying to implement a plan and get it going all within a year,” she said.

From the start, she said it is important to talk with clients and find out what it is they want for themselves and their family. In other words, she is looking for their vision of the surroundings they hope to create.

“What you are doing is creating your own culture for your family and for your intimate life and that reflects when you go out into the world,” she said.

In the case of this New Canaan project, she said, it needed to be elegant, but it also had to accommodate an active, growing family — one that hoped to cultivate plenty of flowers, fruits and vegetables from the space.

Each project is “very personal,” from the plans to the collaboration with other design professionals, said Mario Nievera, a principal with Nievera Williams Design, which has offices in Florida and New York City.

He will be speaking along with architect David Neff at the Greenwich home. The two began work several years ago on the three-acre site to create a new residence and landscape design.

The property, which borders a nature preserve, provided a rural palette upon which to add stonewalls and perennial borders. An elevated pool and lawn terraces also are featured.

Nievera, who is on the foundation’s board, said the project had its own set of challenges, including a rather steep slope, but the end result was “extraordinarily beautiful.”

The site affords some specific examples of design elements, too, he said, that may help visitors facing similar situations.

“It’s a good example of how to borrow views and how to make things interesting all year round,” he said.

Charles Birnbaum, founder and president of the Cultural Landscape Foundation, said the “Garden Dialogues” is part of the organization’s “What’s Out There” initiative — a free online database of the design landscape heritage of the United States.

It has information on everything from private gardens to residential subdivisions, parks and all other spaces in between. One can also look up designers.

Birnbaum said the foundation’s theme for this year is “landscape and patronage.”

“Behind great landscapes are visionary clients,” he said.

Parker said the “Garden Dialogues” program is a good way to hear both sides of the story — the client’s and the designer’s.

“You get to hear the struggles and successes and you get to hear about all the things that went wrong and all the things that went right,” she said. “It’s all very real and very honest.”

The “Garden Dialogues: Connecticut” will take place on Saturday, June 9. The Greenwich talk takes place from 10:30 a.m. to noon; the New Canaan talk will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Participants must register; tickets are $35 for each event. Visit https://tclf.org or call 202-483-0553.

The program returns to the state on July 14 and 15, when three other gardens in the state are featured, including one in Redding.

christina.hennessy@scni.com; 203-964-2241; http://twitter.com/xtinahennessy/

Speak Your Mind

*