Photo/Illustration: Lee Anne White
When I came here to Duck Hill 20 years ago, there was no trace of a garden. No terraces, no hedges, no paths or steps surrounded my new home. To my dismay, no flowers bloomed that first spring, except for some wonderful old stands of purple lilacs in the field and by the roadside. The prim 19th-century farmhouse, painted yellow and white, stood slightly forlorn, halfway up a hill. Old sugar maples and white ash lined the perimeters of the property, but the land around the house was virtually featureless. I had a clean slate on which to design a garden. It was an exciting but nonetheless daunting prospect.
I had the good fortune to have lived previously in a home that had been beautifully landscaped in the early 1900s. What especially impressed me was the way the house opened up onto its garden and led your eye—and feet—out along the terraced borders and into the meadow beyond. With that precedent fresh in my mind, I was determined to connect any garden I made to this new home, physically as well as in spirit. Because the house, with its hint of a Greek Revival façade, was basically symmetrical, I felt simple, geometric outlines for the gardens would be most in keeping with the style of the house.