Tour an Enchanting New England Garden on a Historic Vermont Farm

Video: Carol Collins and Steve Aitken, Edited by Cari Delahanty

On a north-facing hillside in Norwich, Vermont, is an unexpectedly gorgeous and sophisticated landscape—the home garden of designer Bill Noble and his husband, Jim Tatum. This unique landscape was built and tended over the past three decades with the assistance of horticulturist Susan Howard. The garden itself is mostly hidden from the road behind a historic farmhouse and barn, but the garden beds between the house and the road have been kept much the same as they were when the property was a working farm.  

Conserving historic gardens

Bill has gained many insights through years of professional experience working to conserve historic gardens. This work has informed his approach to developing his own home garden into a unique and compelling space. In his book Spirit of Place: The Making of a New England Garden, Bill describes the founding principles that have guided the design process. The garden should feel “relaxed and exuberant,” he writes. “It should evolve and not stand still. It should be informed, enchanting and never complete. It should be interesting in all seasons.” 

Garden focal points

One of the main focal points in the landscape is a large, rectangular flower garden divided into quadrants by intersecting pathways. This section of the garden is designed to be viewed both from the deck above and from the pathways, which plunge you into the heart of a wild mix of cottage garden favorites and stunning foliage plants. 

The foundations of old farm buildings have been incorporated into the design and serve as the boundaries of some intriguing outdoor rooms. Apple trees are a recurring theme, tying the garden back to its roots as a productive agricultural property.  


Learn more about this garden

See how Bill and Jim’s garden navigates the seasons, from Fine Gardening #207.

Find a list of favorite plants with multiple seasons of interest here.


More garden tours from Fine Gardening



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