Garden Diary - September 2019

If you have any comments, observations, or questions about what you read here, remember you can always Contact Me

All content included on this site such as text, graphics and images is protected by U.S and international copyright law.
The compilation of all content on this site is the exclusive property of the site copyright holder.


Garden Conservancy Open Days - A Visit to Ellistan
Saturday, 14 September 2019

Today is the Garden Conservancy's September Open Days for Hunterdon and Somerset County, New Jersey. Four gardens. I plan to visit three. Start with one garden in Far Hills, continue on to Pottersville where there are two gardens only a couple of miles apart. Onward!

First up is Ellistan.

It is described in the Directory as follows: "Ellistan is situated in Essex hunt country with views of the surrounding open fields and hills. When Hank Slack and his first wife bought the property in the 1980s, they worked first with George Bletsil of Innocenti and Webel who drew up a master plan. Hank's cousin, Shelby Mellick, then developed this plan and created a series of gardens around the house. A terrace at the back of the house was partially enclosed with trellis and has become the white garden. White wisteria grows over the arches that frame the windows and the beds are filled with plants including Phlox, Astrantia, Artemisia, and Japanese anenomes.

"To the side of the house, four large beds surround a central pool and are surrounded, in turn, by arches and hedges. When Hank remarried, he and his new wife asked their friend, Penelope Hobhouse, to help continue the work started by Shelby. Her designs stressed the importance of rooms and she suggested planting more hedges to help link the gardens with one another. With the help of Gerth van Wyck, their gardener of nearly twenty years, they have continued to alter and develop the garden so that there is continual color throughout the summer.

A pleasing combination of purple smoke bush and echinacea

"The mature gardens, in shades of pinks to wine and blue, provide a warm and richly textured counterpoint to the austere lines of the house."

Two shades of agastache, deep wine colored dahlias, and pink sedum in the lower right.

More agastache, and some out of focus sedum and roses. I remember learning that renown
garden designer Gertrude Jekyll began to lose her eye sight in her 50s. I imagine she would
see flowers, plants, and gardens in soft focus, in the style of an an impressionistic painting.

Speaking of roses, I was smitten with this very fragrant
David Austen English shrub rose, 'Gentle Hermione'.

Another shrub that caught my attention is this lovely blue
Caryopteris x clandonensis, well named "bluebeard" for

the numerous spikes of bright blue flowers from August on.

In another of the garden's four beds a mass of Hydrangea paniculata flowers
are aging to rose pink. Starburst allium seed heads adding some embellishment.

A heron fountain in the central pool adds water music to the peaceful garden scene.

A lichen covered bench nestles amid hedges, a peaceful nook to sit, and enjoy.

There is another sitting area, walled with a sheltering hedge. Morning coffee,
afternoon tea, a glass of wine at day's end - they all sound appealing, not so?

The white garden behind the house features more of the airy froth provided
by Euphorbia Grande Diamond Frost that is also used in the flower garden.

One of a pair of reclining greyhound statues looks over the rolling hills and pastures.

In front of the house are several Cornus kousa, so loaded with fruit that I can
but imagine the wonderful flowering they displayed last spring. Every season
at Ellison, it seems, features pleasing displays of lovely plants to be enjoyed.

Back to Top

Back to September 2019

Back to the main Diary Page