Restoration of Grounds
With backgrounds in landscape design, specializing in classic garden design and with our experience building woodland habitats, in 2016 we set upon strengthening the design of this historic garden through the use of foundation plantings and softened woodland edges. Following the cues of past Stratton House owners, we furthered the evolution of the garden by reestablishing the Taxus hedge along the front sidewalk border. Taking into account historical photographs from Mary and William’s time, this green hedge border gives strong definition to the front gardens.
Large hedges of Thuja standishii x plicata ‘Green Giant’ were established along the Northern border to aid in noise reduction from Jefferson Ave., and to give the orchard garden and terrace absolute privacy from the residence to the north.
The rear garden beyond the kiln brick walls includes the pond and grotto as well as the entire rear border. Tsuga canadensis (Canadian Hemlock) and Thuja standishii x plicata ‘Green Giant’ were planted here to naturalize the rear borders and add screening from adjacent properties. The gardens are decidedly wild and natural. The woodland floor has been planted with a variety of ferns and naturalized flora. A mix of understory deciduous trees was planted to soften the strong lines of the evergreens. The woodland was established to straddle the open land to the east. Overall, the lush landscape creates wonderful, important habitat for birds and other wildlife and also helps mitigate the watershed in the spring.
In the rear lawn area, a seven-foot horseshoe Taxus hedge was planted to replicate the exact shape as originally designed by the Strattons. Work has begun to knit the two parcels back together once again. With the intention of keeping the adjacent lot decidedly wild, we have strategically planted evergreens along the borders, keeping the space open in the center of the meadow.
The whole property underwent canopy lifting of the shade trees and selective pruning and removal of old deciduous shrubs that had suffered the effects of time and over shading.
The kitchen garden, during the waterproofing system installation, underwent a transformation. The original brick walks and beds were removed due to age, flooding issues, and severe heaving. The aged currant bushes were removed and gifted to gardening friends. This area was then planted with a border of Thuja standishii x plicata, giving this garden area a vertical green backbone that aids in buffering the northern neighbor from kitchen views. Buxus globes were added and top dressed with a deep layer of decomposed granite to allow for permeability. The garden that once acted like a bathtub now drains naturally and beautifully. All mechanicals for the home are located in this area, keeping them out of sight from the public-facing gardens.
We kept one of the original peony allées, perpendicular to the rear terrace. The other was removed to allow for redevelopment of the rose garden into a Buxus globe garden. Maturing trees surrounding this garden have shaded the area over time, altering growing conditions. However, we wanted to retain at least one row of peonies, to honor Marylin’s love of their beauty.
Simplifying the planting with repetitive box spheres gives this garden a strong winter presence. The focus is now the mature Taxus horseshow hedge featuring, a terracotta bust of Bacchus salvaged from the Vanderbilt Hotel in Manhattan.
The preservation of the original garden plan was always at the forefront of our minds. However, we wanted the property to evolve and reflect the current garden’s state, with the huge number of shade trees to the rear and east dictating how we addressed plantings, screening and habitat renewal.
Vast numbers of Hellebore, ferns and ethereal spring bulbs make dancing sweeps throughout the woodland border. Thousands of Galanthus and Scilla bulbs have been naturalized throughout the front lawn and eastern borders.
The home’s formal gardens give way to a harmonious informality. Stratton House has an English country house feeling that blends as well with the wild wood as with the formal evergreen bones of the public spaces. With the reunification of the side lot to the main home’s parcel, a sense of wild calm has been achieved via the uninterrupted expanse of meadow. We believe the home’s architecture and interior views towards the outside landscape needed this openness to fully achieve Stratton’s vision.