A view of Philip Johnson's Glass House, in New Canaan, Connecticut.
In 1936, New York's MoMA curated an exhibit in which the artwork wasn't displayed on walls or in glass cases. It didn't need dusting or polishing. Nope, all the pieces needed was a little watering and a high ceiling for their six-foot-tall purple spikes. The museum was showing new delphinium varieties, hybridized by Edward Steichen.
Planning and purchasing aside, all gardeners know that the enduring experience of landscapes is largely sensual. We have the tactile pleasures of using our fingers to tease apart root divisions or tuck plants into their pots, gently patting the earth around them with the hope of what’s to come. We gladly suffer the blisters, aches, and bug bites to walk barefoot across a carpet of moss or catch the first whiff of an unfurling rose.
Although it's often taken for granted that a garden gets better with age, it isn't always true in reality. However, according to Bruce Eckerson, principal designer for Wesley Stout Associates, this "Shaker Modern" garden in Westport, Connecticut, has most definitely improved over time, thanks to its "inherent structure and simplicity." He explains that "great clients" (both of whom are themselves designers) and "a location with a strong traditional identity" were the serendipitous combination that produced a successful alchemy of classic and contemporary.
It is commonly said that landscape architects are pros with structure and amateurs when it comes to plants. The cliché about horticulturists and nurserymen is that they’re so busy focusing on individual species, they lose sight of the big picture. Judy Murphy, though, is that rare garden professional who sees it both ways. Trained as a landscape architect, she can whip up a site plan for even the slipperiest slope. But she’s also a seasoned nurserywoman who waxes poetic about the latest cultivars and declares chartreuse foliage the ultimate neutral.
Joseph Keller grew up in exurban Connecticut, in a modern wood-and-glass house nestled on a hillside amid Norway spruces and sycamores. When he was young, Keller and his brother played baseball on a lawn that sloped down to a pond ringed with ash, maple, and elm. Two decades later, the games are long over and the pond is gone — having first become overgrown and, finally, a marsh — but Keller is still around. He lives across town in his own house, but gardens his parents’ property.