A remarkable residence on Cape Cod is just one room deep, to catch every possible breeze in the days before air conditioning. The triumphant entry court and procession through the house needed to be balanced by a suitably focal statement in the garden so many of the rooms overlook.
- With passage through this opening, the well-curated naturalism of the wider property changes to a dramatic formal parking court.
- The house is enormous, true, but appears even more so because so many of the rooms are stretched out, room by room by room, to catch cross breezes.
- Seen from the back of the back garden, the house's profuse fenestration—let alone that roof-top deck—provide every opportunity to catch views of the water. But all of those views also include the garden, which needs to rise to the occasion.
- The garden view from the center of the ground floor shows that trees allow only a hint of a water view—hence that rooftop observation deck. Without the sizzle of a broad water view, the many grand rooms needed to look out at something more exuberant than natural-growth woods.
- An eighty-foot bed twenty feet deep was creating . Its front edge is parallel to the house, thereby turning what had just been "filler" grass into a grand rectangular space. Because the house is used primarily in the summer, early-season classics (such as the transplanted rhododendron) can contribute little to the real show of July into October. No hardy plant would flower that long, either. The majority of the plantings, therefore, are of colorfully-foliaged shrubs, trees, and perennials, with flowers only the occasional icing on the cake. In this shot, planting is just beginning.
- The focal bed two years later, ready to greet the public at its first Open Day, in mid-July. Larger blocks of perennials at the front ensure the strong rhythm as well as geometry that relates specifically to the house.
- The focal bed, seen from the side. Extant clumps of Stella D'Oro dallies, Russian sage, and (between the blocks of Russian sage) coreopsis were incorporated at the client's request.
- Standing in the center of the bed, shooting lengthwise. For performance that was enthusiastic May through frost—and peaked July through September—every trick in the book was needed. Colorful foliage of coppiced trees and shrubs is the mainstay, with passing fireworks of perennials and grasses. 'Summertime' dahlias are one of the few annuals. Just for the garden's Open Day, I brought my four potted variegated yuccas—only two of which are visible here— that were set in a careful line the length of the bed.
- Japanese iris are the last iris to flower—in July—so are the only ones appropriate to a summer-peak border.
- One of the potted variegated yuccas, echoing the variegation of the palm-like leaves of Silver Umbrellas aralia.
- The lime-green foliage of the coppiced Frisia locust is highlighted by the violet helmeted flowers of Sparks monkshood.
- White heads of an Annabelle hydrangea, the only readily-identifiable plant here. At the center, the feathery foliage of an aggressively-colonizing ligularia cousin, Sinacalia tangutica. At the back, the square ten-foot stems of cup-plant daisy. At the left, the tips of one of the huge compoundly-pinnate leaves of the variegated aralia.
- From the shade of one of the trees at the side, this time in August, a month after that July open day. The daylilies and Russian sage have passed, but the bulk, color, texture, sophistication, and impact of this bed is, if anything, only greater.
- From the side, the day in July of the Open Day. The focal garden is classically exciting, thanks to the vivid blocks of familiar perennials across the front.