A rocky, hilly setting is transformed into a beautiful garden
Slide 1 Of Magnificent garden: formal yet inviting
Most people wouldn't survey 12 acres of land in rocky, hilly New Hampshire—legendary for its bone-chilling winters and abbreviated growing season—and think Edwardian garden. Most people aren't Stan Fry. The garden, actually a series of separate but linked and unified gardens, is his magnificent obsession.
Stan and his wife, Cheri, brought in Gordon Hayward from Vermont, known nationally for superbly designed private gardens and author of enlightening books about the art and practice of gardening. Together they began to lay out the elaborate plans that are today realized in some 40 different gardens seamlessly connected by pebbled or grassed walkways.
At the outset, elevation changes—nearly 110 feet from the street down to the ponds below—were a major consideration. "I advocated terracing to create level spaces and garden areas," Hayward says. "For example, a 300-foot allée of pollarded sycamores is supported by a pair of native-stone retaining walls."
Looking through the allée in the opposite direction, to the north, toward the Pope's urn (modeled after an urn in the garden of the poet Alexander Pope). The branches of 32 pollarded sycamores are trimmed to emphasize the straightness of the 300-foot allée.
Collecting lead urns is one of Stan's side hobbies. "I also build the plinths on which the urns stand and cast statues from the molds we have made," he says. This urn, by his cottage office, is planted with a bulrush, or cyperus, which needs constant moisture and requires wintering in a warm place.
Stan Fry, left, and master garden designer Gordon Hayward.
Hayward offers amateur landscapers these guidelines:
Don't be afraid of straight lines in forming bed edges, lawn shape, and paths, especially near the house. After all, your house is geometric; make beds near it geometric, too. Then let beds and paths curve as you get away from the house.
Avoid putting all planting beds around the perimeter of your house and the outer perimeter of the lawn. Make places that feel like extensions of rooms of your house.
Use low hedges to define edges. Structure in the form of straight paths, shorn hedges, or rows of trees will give your garden order, making informal plantings feel intentional.
Juxtapose contrasting leaf forms and colors.
Shape your lawn into long straight lines or broadly curving ones. Stand at upstairs windows to determine if lawn shapes and proportions are pleasing.