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25 Years of Beautiful Gardens

We searched the archives and dusted off the slides to find our 25 favorite gardens

Produced by Julianne Hilmes
  • We love the beauty and serenity of gardens. Whether they're quaint cottage gardens or formal European-style gardens, sprawling farmhouse gardens or small kitchen gardens, we simply adore them. Here, we have selected our favorites from 25 years of Traditional Home. They are scattered across the country and even across continents. The common thread? They are all stunning. 

  • Karlis Grants

    Luxurious Backyard Retreat

    August 1989

    An elegant extension of a turn-of-the-century home, this fresh-air haven features a Victorian-style gazebo, brick terraces, and formal flower beds for gracious outdoor living.

    Masses of old-fashioned cutting flowers bloom with abandon all summer long. A black-bottom swimming pool defined by dwarf boxwood hedges and red brick pavers reflects its serene surroundings. Red geraniums and white daisies luxuriously frame the brick terrace with its chaise longues perfect for soaking up the summer sun.

    Written by Jane Austin McKeon
    Field editor: Cathy Howard
    Landscape design: Huntington-Kiest

  • Bob Hawks

    Small, Colorful Garden

    June 1990

    Presented with an uninspired, unkempt yard contained by a chain-link fence, the owners of this home nevertheless saw the potential for a colorful cottage garden. Working with landscape designer Jack Crain, they started by replacing the chain-link with a friendly white picket fence. Then they began planting.

    Now, from early spring to late fall, the garden is a quiet riot of color. In spring, crocus, forsythia, jonquils, quince, saucer magnolia, and velvety pansies pop up to parade their showy blooms. Tulips, azaleas, dogwoods, rhododendrons, and hydrangeas join in soon after. And when summer comes, impatiens, begonias, gazanias, periwinkles, amaryllis, and caladiums create a quiet, subtle garden. The blooming cycle comes to a magnificently colorful close in fall, when hundreds of bright yellow mums take the stage.

    Crain designed this flower-lined path that meanders up from the street to the house. Graceful flowering dogwoods and mature trees provide shade.

    Written by Heather Wright
    Produced by Nancy E. Ingram
    Landscape design: Jack Crain

  • Julie Maris/Semel

    Blended Garden

    October 1991

    The Tudor-style home of former New York Botanical Garden president James Hester looks out over a pasture of bluebells, pachysandra, and ferns. “I got it in my head early on that gardens are a wonderful form of art,” Hester said. “It’s something that has always stayed with me.”

    Almost 20 years after buying his New York home, Hester finally found the time to cultivate the garden he’d spent years dreaming of. Inspired by Japanese Zen gardens and the gardens of the English countryside, he managed to create visions of both in his 1-acre backyard.

    Written by Heather Wright
    Landscape design: Robert Zion

  • Stephen Cridland

    Sprawling Oregon Garden

    November 1992

    Architect Jeff Miller counts 40 gardens on his 85-acre Oregon farm. He originally designed it for his grandmother, who loved the French country landscape, but it kept growing and now includes environments as varied as wildflower meadows and Japanese landscapes.

    “The whole landscape is based on an axis that starts at the last curve of the drive, runs through the front door, down the hall, out the French doors, straight down the meadow to the pond and gazebo to a big fir tree in the woods behind them,” Miller said.

    From that vantage point, Miller strove to create a symmetrical view reminiscent of the gardens of a French manor house. Two rows of flowering Yoshino cherries lead the eye away from the house toward the pond. Trees planted around the pond further the symmetry. As you move closer to the pond, however, the symmetry disappears, and the landscape takes on the informality of an English garden.

    Written by Dan Weeks
    Landscape design: Jeff Miller

  • Eric Roth

    New Hampshire Garden

    September 1993

    With 3 acres of graceful beds and a formal rose garden, two amateur gardeners created a landscape where rugged nature meets beautiful design at their country house high on a New Hampshire hill. Offering a new view everywhere you look, the garden is unified by subtle correspondences of color, line, material, and form.

    In the fall, bare spots in the garden are filled with ornamental cabbages. The plants mimic the form of the rose, and their color gets prettier as fall progresses. Just beyond, hollyhocks climb through clouds of baby’s-breath.

    Written by Dan Weeks
    Regional editor: Estelle Bond Guralnick
    Landscape design: Gordon and Helene Moodie

  • William Stites

    East Hampton Cottage Garden

    July 1994

    This traditional English cutting garden is loaded with peonies, lilies, dahlias, and other wonderful cutting flowers. Cool, rich summer colors like purple, blue, and magenta are set off by white, while a touch of yellow helianthus brightens and transforms the mood. Carefully placed groupings of althaea, helianthus, lythrum, ammi majus, and gypsophila form layers of dynamic colors and textures. 

    Pieces of slate separated by ribbons of grass form an edge on the long border and provide a path to the carriage house. Garden designer Jane Lappin mixed perennials and annuals so the border would be in constant bloom.

    Written by John Riha
    Garden design: Jane Lappin

  • Richard Felber

    Rocky Mountain Garden

    September 1995

    A young garden enthusiast built glorious beds overflowing with enchanting flowers and vegetables in the Rockies. Bearing in mind the limitations imposed by the short growing season, she chose plants that thrive in arid climates and at high altitudes. She wanted a combination of hardy annuals and perennials that would provide exquisite color and texture. At the top of the list were roses, delphinium, hollyhocks, nepta, clematis, dianthus, bleeding heart, poppies, cosmos, and petunias.

    In front of the house, a rock outcropping of terraced beds spills over with columbine, delphinium, dianthus, violas, phlox, roses, and Japanese anemones.

    Written by Senga Mortimer
    Landscape design: Elise Lufkin

  • Jerry Harpur

    Cotswolds Manor Garden

    March 1996

    The Cotswolds region includes some of England's most romantic and beautiful countryside. It's also where you'll find interior designer George Cooper’s historic home and his formal white garden. "I love the formality of using one color," he said, "a trick I would never use in an interior, yet in the garden achieving sufficient contrast with the different-colored leaves of selected plants…the purple of the sage, the more silvery green of the curry plants, and the pale green of the summer snow."

    Here, 'Noble Maiden' white lupines, dark red peonies, and aubrieta combine for a true cottage feel. The climbing rose is 'Phyllis Bide'.

    Written by Karen Howes
    Garden design: Rosemary Verey

  • Eric Roth

    Ornamental New England Garden

    September 1997

    What started as an attempt to grow tomatoes expanded into a beautiful ornamental garden in New Hampshire as the homeowner drew inspiration from gardens in Europe and East Asia—and in favorite books.

    From garden to barn, the apple espalier is on the right, then lawn, leading on the left to a bed of pink hardy mums and purple, pink, and white salvias. One sweep of blooms is cradled by an arc of arborvitae.

    Written by Elvin McDonald and Estelle Bond Guralnick
    Landscape design: Fred Watson

  • Curtice Taylor

    Lovely Dutch Garden

    March 1998

    In Middelburg in the Dutch province of Zeeland, Jetty and Jan de la Hayze divided their small backyard into a garden of multiple compartments, each clearly defined, advantageously connected, and deceptively spacious. Deciding to shape their garden in straight lines and circles, they reworked the sloping site into small terraces connected by steps; tall hedges were planted to separate the different gardens. Other hedges with paths between them create shady walk-through tunnels and arches that lead from one area to another.

    From the iris garden, looking north, and beyond the yew-hedged rondel with its stone ornament, is a long white garden bench set on flagstones and surrounded by precisely clipped hedge walls. The variegated leaves behind the blue irises belong to a variety of astrantia.

    Written by Elvin McDonald
    Landscape design: Jetty and Jan de la Hayze

  • Richard Felber

    Bountiful Kitchen Garden

    July 1999

    In just nine years, the owners of this Victorian-era house transformed their surrounding 1.5-acre property into a series of garden rooms extending into the surrounding Indiana farmland.

    Flowers and produce mix in the kitchen garden. Eight-foot lattice walls discourage deer from grazing on the dinner-plate-sized dahlias, the perfect cage-grown tomatoes, or the apples and pears.

    Written by Elvin McDonald
    Landscape design: Anne and Michael Ripley

  • Karen Bussolini

    Pretty Peonies

    September 2000

    Former Traditional Home gardens editor Elvin McDonald wrote an educational piece about peonies in the September 2000 issue, which is where this gorgeous Connecticut garden was shown. In the piece, he noted the eight basic flower types recognized by peony connoisseurs: single, anemone, Japanese, crown, semidouble, semirose, rose, and bomb. This photo features singles.

    Framed overhead by the lacy white flowers of the fringe tree is a single 'Pink Princess' blooming in the left foreground. A nameless darker pink single has been divided and repeated throughout this garden.

    Written by Elvin McDonald
    Design credit: Joan Larned

  • Richard Felber

    Cultivated View

    July 2001

    This Cotswolds-style cottage in the New Hampshire countryside overlooks a manmade pond that is naturally filled by rain and melting snow. What started 20 years ago as three clumps of daylilies and five hostas has multiplied into thousands of flowers. “All I did was dig and divide,” homeowner Marji Carter said. “Nature did the rest.” In the summertime, the pond is surrounded by lilies, hostas, and daylilies.

    Written by Elvin McDonald
    Garden design: Marji Carter

  • David McDonald

    Succulent San Francisco Garden

    April 2002

    A childhood in the desert followed by life as a sculptor prepared I’Lee Hooker for turning a steep slope north of San Francisco into the garden of her dreams. Shaping her hillside was aided by the slope's sharp drainage. That allowed plants that thrive in dry places to succeed here, where it rains more frequently.

    Winding down the paths to the lower levels of the garden, visitors look up the hillside to behold an avalanche of multihued and variously formed flowers and foliage. Heavy timbers set in a gently curving stairway provide a way down from the deck to the succulent bed. Roses, lavender, and catmint scent the air.

    Written by Elvin Mcdonald
    Landscape design: I’Lee Hooker

  • Curtice Taylor

    Storybook Garden

    March 2003

    At West Green House in Hampshire, England, a classical garden flourishes in the pale light and gentle showers. In 1993, homeowner Marylyn Abbott took on a 99-year lease from the National Trust for the 18th-century home and surrounding gardens, the terms of which specified that the gardens be open to the public every summer. After working to restore the neglected land and preserve its history, Marylyn brought the storybook garden back to life.

    Two potagers fleuris––kitchen gardens with flowers––have fruit cages that form centerpieces for the geometrically arranged beds. Designed by Oliver Ford, the cages are both decorative and practical in a land where birds would otherwise harvest all the black and red currants, gooseberries, and other fruit. Rows of viburnums clipped into lollipop tree-form standards add pomp, while wooden tripods painted in bright colors echo and harmonize with the beds of spring bulbs from which they rise. The garden includes leafy, showy crops such as rhubarb, kale, reddish-purple orach, and chard, as well as thyme, lavender, and rosemary. Summer brings a host of pumpkins and sunflowers, dahlias, bachelor’s buttons, and zinnias.

    Written by Elvin McDonald and Belinda Bamber
    Lansdscape design: Marylyn Abbott

  • Curtice Taylor

    Flemish Farmhouse Garden

    April 2004

    Internationally acclaimed garden designer Jacques Wirtz's work reveals an acute awareness of his own heritage and aesthetic influences. Wirtz’s starting point for a design was always the character of the site. This is especially evident in the gardens he designed in his native Flanders, the northern region of Belgium. It also characterizes the garden he designed for Bellem, a 17th-century Flemish farmhouse in a secluded rural landscape close to the Ghent-Bruges canal.

    A towering dovecote marks the heart of the orderly rural garden. This splendid brick tower, dating from 1640, dominates the garden behind the house. Its walls are shrouded in clematis, honeysuckle, grapevines, and wisteria, while the brick path leading to it is lined with clipped yew topiaries, adding a pronounced vertical emphasis to the romantic structure. About halfway along its length, the path splits, with a branch leading off to the orchard, the other practical but ornamental garden space, with a mix of old and new apple and pear trees.

    Written by Patrick Taylor
    Produced by Ethne Clarke
    Garden design: Jacques Wirtz

  • Matthew Benson

    Country Garden

    November 2005

    A stone’s throw from Lake Forest, Illinois, lies Mettawa Manor, the country home of two documentary filmmakers. The 1927 house is a prime example of Tudor Revival style, popular at the time for the spacious executive family estates being established north of Chicago.

    A desire to create a garden that respected the architecture of the house, paired with a landscape that reflected the couple’s interest, led the homeowners to Craig Bergman, the noted Chicago plantsman and designer known for his gardens with English flavor.

    The heart of Mettawa’s landscape is the walled formal garden that stretches out from the terrace at the back of the house. From there, stone steps lead down to the sunken lawn, the perfect spot for viewing the twin 40-foot-long herbaceous borders that crown the ramparts on either side.

    Written by Ethne Clarke
    Landscape design: Craig Bergman

  • Peter Krumhardt

    Big Ideas in a Small Garden

    September 2006

    Bill Heffernan’s visionary plan, combined with his skill as an events designer, ultimately turned his drab, brick-paved patio and overgrown side yard into a lush, evergreen garden.

    From the start, Bill decided that the garden would be divided into quadrants, each with its own character. So each corner of the lot is anchored by a different garden feature: The two corners at the front of the house each have an urn and are linked by a path; a garden pavilion and a large cupola distinguish the remaining two corners. The view along the south side of the garden reveals how each area has its own identity.

    Written by Ethne Clarke
    Garden design: Bill Heffernan

  • Rich Pomerantz

    Garden at Tarp Farm

    November 2007

    At Tarp Farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, the rill and greenhouse are the focal points of the perennial garden, inspired by the grand gardens of the early 1900s.

    Landscape designer Carter Van Dyke leveled and trimmed the farm’s sloping site to provide a platform for the house and landscape, shaping a formal plan with garden rooms and terraced overlooks. The whole garden is planted for year-round interest, but within that scheme individual areas have their moment of stardom. The rill garden, a stone-banked water channel, is flanked by perennial borders that are at their best in late summer, while June sees the rose garden in full-blown beauty. Early spring is graced by the flowering crabapple allée, followed by the azalea walk. Boxwood and formal structure keep the interest going through the snowy winter months.

    Written by Ethen Clarke
    Produced by Cynthia Bogart
    Landscape architect: Carter Van Dyke

  • Gordon Beall

    Lush Vacation Garden

    July 2008

    When searching for the lot where they would build their vacation home, a Texas couple's criteria included grounds for a hearty garden that would satisfy their passion for growing beautiful plants and flowers. They found it in Kennebunkport, Maine, where a magical array of flowers now grows with abandon. Perched on a rocky ledge close to the sea, the property overlooks a sweep of gardens descending to a marsh and estuary.

    Written by Krissa Rossbund
    Produced by Estelle Bond Guralnick
    Architect: Thom Rousselle

  • John Granen

    Color-Driven California Garden

    March 2009

    This small courtyard garden at a Southern California home was divided into eight flower beds that were then planted with 40 rose bushes and loads of annuals and perennials. The choices were guided exclusively by the homeowner’s favorite palette, centered on apricot. She expanded her sunny repertoire by adding gold, orange, yellow, coral, and rust tints, and complemented this warm array with masses of purple, blue, and lavender-tinted annuals and perennials.

    Blue pansies, white alyssum, and mauve nemesia weave a floral carpet around the central fountain. The terrace was turned into an outdoor room where distant views of the Pacific Ocean can be enjoyed.

    Written and produced by Ethne Clarke
    Landscape design: Margie Grace

  • Helen Norman

    Virginia Farm Garden

    July 2010

    Nestled in a valley between the Blue Ridge Mountains and Short Hill Mountain, between Leesburg, Virginia, and Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, the 18th-century Silverbrook Farm is known for exquisite gardens and gorgeous views. Dotted around 50 acres are perennial, woodland, butterfly, children’s, and chess gardens—the last a functioning game, with giant chess pieces adding a hint of Alice in Wonderland surrealism to the bucolic ambience.

    The font in the butterfly garden came from an old church; the white ceramic balls on the ground, salvaged from a water refinery system, add a touch of mystery.

    Written by Rebecca Christian
    Produced by James Cramer
    Garden design: Dotti Shetterly

  • Tria Giovan

    English-Style Hamptons Garden

    June 2011

    Like a series of rooms furnished with magnificent urns, pillars, fountains, and a stone grotto, gardens of herbs, vegetables, and perennials dot the grounds of this 1949 Hamptons residence.

    Inside formal boxwood hedges, lavender flourishes around the armillary. 

    Written by Rebecca Christian
    Produced by Bonnie Maharam
    Garden design: Jane Lappin 

  • Jerry Harpur

    Glorious British Garden

    June 2012

    Turning an overgrown 5-acre plot in southwest England into gracious gardens was Simon and Amanda Mehigan's 17-year obsession. The overall design of the garden came about piecemeal, but the result of the couple’s collaboration is a classic English-style garden with boxwood-edged beds, yew hedges, and exuberant plantings. Early on, Simon, who is especially keen on structure, decided he wanted a central axis from the house right to the end of the garden.

    'Mrs. Perry' Oriental poppy appears as though dressed in a crinkly, ruffled party frock. The knot garden behind the house features arches of roses and clematis.

    Written by Elvin McDonald
    Garden design: Amanda and Simon Mehigan

  • Matthew Benson

    Quiet Connecticut Garden

    October 2013

    Tucked behind an old farmhouse in Connecticut lie 5 acres of gardens—a sublime composition of color and texture, where shrubs interweave with perennials, shapes interplay eloquently, and the spectrum of hues is explored to its fullest.

    Clean borders, the daffodil allée, and the dappled carpet in the woodland garden offer a place to stroll or relax.

    Written and produced by Tovah Martin
    Garden design: Lynden B. Miller

  • If you enjoyed this gardens retrospective, you'll also love "A Garden Editor's 25 Gardening Insights" from our former garden editor Elvin McDonald's memoir-in-progress.