When we purchased our Weston, CT home – we quickly learned that landscaping and maintaining the required two acre lot would be like nothing we every experienced with our California home.
See – in Los Angeles, we had a 10,000 SF lot with a two story home sitting on it. We could literally reach out and touch our neighbors side walls. Don’t get me wrong- we loved our home and our life in Los Angeles. And maintaining a small yard was so easy! We willingly left our home of twenty seven years because we missed our grown children terribly, they all live in Brooklyn, NY.
There are very few rules in gardening, but perhaps the most important one is to work within your zone. Choosing plants that grow and thrive in your particular climate is the very first step toward having a beautiful garden. I loved to garden in Los Angeles County – our landscaping Zone for plant life was Zone 9. We had a clay type soil, and we always needed to amend the soil in order to give plant life a chance to survive!
Cut to our Smight house 3,000 miles away from California – in Weston, CT – zip code 06883, we are Zone 6. The soil is so beautiful and rich black. There are an unusual amount of boulders and rocks the minute my shovel hits the dirt, but I am getting used to that too! When it came to planning our landscape design (my husband and I wanted to do a lot of the work ourselves). I was craving some local design inspiration — to walk through a garden and experience what thrives in Zone 6.
I did a search of the area on Google, and found a hidden treasure! Located approximately one mile from downtown Danbury, lie the Historic Gardens of Tarrywile Estate and Park. It is located at 70 Southern Blvd, Danbury, CT 06810.
The grounds of the Tarrywile Mansion display a great example of the design of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century landscape design; formal English manicured lawn decorated with flower beds, ornamental trees and a lovely Japanese Garden.
I was able to appreciate the beauty and practicality of mature trees – to provide shade and dimension to a large piece of land. I was pleasantly surprised to see that some of the species which thrive in Southern California, are evident in Connecticut – Mock orange, hydrangeas, and lilacs are present at the property, and reminded of our California garden.
The best advice I received from a landscape designer is to start with a clean canvas AND work in plan view on a survey of the property. Currently, Alec and I are still in the state of clearing the property. The previous owners did not maintain the property (just had grass mowed). The poison ivy overtook many Ash trees and the property was “messy”. We have really cut back a lot of the overgrowth, and hired professional tree removal service to take out dead trees.
We are starting to see the potential for the property. This is an excellent exercise in patience for me. In California, I could have an area of my tiny garden planted the same day I conceive of an idea… this will be a five year plan. So I continue to gather inspiration images from my travels to various gardens, and Pinterest and Houzz. There are great books on landscape design which are informing my five year design as well. One of my favorites is by an Architectural Digest 100: Edmund Hollander Design. The title I recommend is The Good Garden: The Landscape Architecture of Edmund Hollander Design, although there are others!
Wow! What inspiration, every page! He generously shares the name of species and provides the thought process in his selection for the various designs. So this is the start for getting inspiration photos…. then think of the project in areas. If you need help with your landscape, no matter the size, it is really helpful to have a plan – starting with design inspiration from Pinterest or Houzz. I can also help organize the project, interview landscapers, prepare a budget and timeline. By profession I am an interior designer for Danbury CT and all of Fairfield County. Please reach out to me if I can be of assistance!