Monday, 1 October 2012
Old Westbury on Long Island
Having taken a walk around the outside of Westbury House Barbara and I now went for a stroll around the grounds. Some of the grounds, that is, as there's more to see than we had time for. From the house we went down to the very large pond and followed its shoreline path around to the left where eventually we can to
the walled perennial garden, its imposing entrance closed with a gate of lace-like metal work.
Just closed, not locked. A simple push and it was open, revealing a fountain an a gazebo at the far end.
The lotus in the pool have begun to yellow. After all, it is October. But the walled garden, somewhat lower
than the lawn we'd just traversed, is very sheltered and warm. It will remain so even in winter. We saw
anoles, the chameleons of Florida scurrying here and there. Barbara said the little lizards find places to hide
from the cold weather, then come back out in Spring when the weather is once more mild and frost-free.
There are pergolas to either side of the gazebo, supported on brick piers that are linked with
brick walls, each section of which swoop down in a graceful curve. This lends a pleasing rhythm
to the masonry wall but even more attractive is the pattern made by wall and wooden arbor
wherein the two together give the illusionary appearance of a circle. By accident? Not hardly.
The walled garden is filled with perennial beds embellished with annuals. In the family's day
colors would be subdued and muted, more pastel than not. Today the palette is still quiet,
with accents of brighter colors - some red zinnias and seasonal chrysanthemums.
. . . .
Zinnia 'Envy', with flowers the color of Granny Smith apples, and a red zinnia being visited by a late butterfly.
Purple asters as rich and vivid, the royal color of an emperor's robe.
Our native aster, A. lateriflorus, the cultivar 'Lady in Black'
The brick walls support many plants: espalier apples and magnolias, and passion flower vine.
There's a rose garden too, in a sunken garden. This is not ideal for the plants as
it can be too warm, and the still air leads to disease. Though right now,
'Falling in Love' a hybrid tea rose, is, well, lovely. Late roses are the best.
Around back there is a rustic area with shrubs and several smaller gardens, something you and I without
staff to maintain them can relate to. I've grown this shrub, Clerodendron trichotomum with its peanut butter
smelling leaves. The metallic blue berries and red calyces make a terrific autumn show. But it suckers madly.
Line with hemlocks, the Ghost Walk is a replica of the one at Battle Abbey, which was lined with yews
A shady respite on this brilliantly clear and sunny day. The slate path provides an accent,
and offers clean footing when rain would make things muddy. It feels oriental, Japanese.
One year the daughter was forbidden to go along the Primrose Walk, a place where she'd previously often
gone before. Why? Because her parent were having a playhouse made for her, a thatched cottage
where she and her little friends could go with their nannies and have tea parties. I would have liked a cup
of tea and some lavender shortbread in the cottage surrounded with flowers. An Irish thatcher was brought
over for the most recent "re-roofing." His signature - point / curve / point near the top.
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