The Main Axis of Sakonnet Garden
An Acer griseum grove smolders in the backlit Orange Room
The grey foliage of Scot's thistle, Onopordum acanthium, in the Silver Meadow
The Red Pavilion from Old Delhi in the Tropical Quadrant
The bold foliage of Petasites through the Meconopsis Ditch into the Central Lawn
View from the Cental Lawn into the Dog Pen
A pine limbed up by Mikel
More Architectural Limbing
Small Sculpture on a Pedestal near the House
View from the Meadow through a Holly Topiary Entrance to the House
The Path in the Wild Wet Meadow
Saturday I spent the day at a symposium called Lofty Aspirations of Down-to-Earth Gardeners hosted by Sakonnet Garden and Wildmeadows (SG&W) in Little Compton, RI. SG&W is the magical garden of John Gwynne and Mikel Folcarelli which has been a collaboration in the works for thirty years. This is their first day-long symposium. You knew that they were serious when the invited Fergus Garrett, the head gardener at Great Dixter and Marco Polo Stufano, the now retired horticulturalist who created the gardens at Wave Hill in the Bronx, to be the guest speakers. To top it all off, add Dominique Browning, the former editor of House and Garden, as a moderator and you have created a splendid day for conversations about "gardening as an inspiring art form."
Marco Polo Stufano stressed the importance of structural plants to create form and, when properly placed, how they can help pull the design of a garden together. As an Italian, he affirmed that he "loved things touched by the hand of man." Fergus Garrett talked about how gardening gave him the sense of freedom to express his thoughts and to be creative. He encouraged the audience to be more willing to be experiment while gardening. At Great Dixter he is carrying on Christopher Lloyd's legacy by keeping the garden the same, that is to say, to keep it vibrant through revision, refinement and change.
Fergus immediately noticed how John and Mikel are having fun in their garden. After the symposium, we were invited to tour the garden which is contained within a wall of hedges and fences and is separated and hidden from the house. It is divided into a series of rooms each reflecting "the owner’s ongoing experiments with lighting, space, color mixing, collecting and growing wonderful plants."
I went away feeling a renewed freedom to continue to express myself in my own garden through, as Fergus stated, style, atmosphere and personality. And, thanks to John and Mikel, I won't forget to have it be fun.