Matt Mattus and his partner, Joe, live in a three-generation family home in a suburban area of Worcester, Massachusetts, along with their three dogs. Over the years, Matt has transformed his 2-acre lot into a densely packed garden bursting with blooms. One area of his property contains many potted plants bordered by privacy hedges, espaliered apples, a greenhouse, and a towering, multistory birdhouse. Behind the greenhouse lies a chicken coop where several chickens and a turkey named Tom live under a massive ‘Hartlage Wine’ calycanthus (Calycanthus raulstonii ‘Hartlage Wine’, Zones 5–9).
Building the Painter’s Garden
The other half of Matt’s garden is a four-quadrant area outlined by walking paths, boxwoods (Buxus spp. and cvs., Zones 4–9), and a koi pond that he calls the Painter’s Garden. This area used to be a golf putting green. Matt started developing this space into a garden in 2018. The name comes from Matt’s inspiration. A painter’s easel is often crowded with different vibrant colors, many of which become grouped with other like colors as an artist blends different paints. Matt wanted his garden to look similar; plants with different but similar colors are grouped together but still maintain some contrast with other plants in the garden. The result is a dense, eye-catching planting bursting with vibrancy but still managing to look harmonious and not garish. This garden is interesting during all four seasons, with many structural plants that anchor the space during winter.
In this video, listen to Matt talk about how he created his garden, as well as some of the challenges he faces and his favorite plants. To hear more from Matt, find his Northeast regional reports here. And for more stunning tours of some of America’s best private gardens, check out these videos: