The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Monday, September 6, 2010

Michael Trapp Creates a Mood

Michael Trapp's Shop

Pencil-thin Junipers Reach for the Sky

View over the Upper pool Behind Michael's Shop

Looking from the Upper Level to the Lap Pool below

Steep Steps to the Lower Garden

The stone Spiral Staircase

The Cool Dark Lower Garden and Pool

Steps to the Pool

Architectural Fragments Add an Ancient Feel to the Stone Wall

Urns Flank the Path Parallel to the Pool

The Steps Return to the the Upper Level

Looking Back at the Pool

Stone Benches Invite the Visitor to Stay a While Longer

Simple Composition: White Urn Backed by Boxwood

Michael Trapp knows how to create a mood. He converted an 19th century Greek Revival house overlooking the Housatonic River in West Cornwall, CT into a shop nearly twenty years ago. The shop is chalk-full of architectural fragments, balustrades, antique furniture, pots, urns, statuary and textiles. The 3/4 acre garden surrounding the shop compliments it perfectly. He "wanted to make the house and garden seem as though the were 500 years old." In doing so he brings us to Europe, for the garden has an unmistakable Italian and French atmosphere.

The house and garden are situated on a very steep slope and has a dramatic stone stairway leading to the lower garden and lap pool with handsome limestone coping. The garden boasts 78 tons of cobblestone paths. The plant material is very limited. There is plenty of boxwood, arborvitae, juniper and yew creating walls and repeated vertical elements. The upper garden has some cottage plants like hollyhocks but the lower garden is in deep shade and has a dark and romantic aura.

Michael Trapp's garden has an intention fortified with restraint which makes the garden so successful. Every detail reinforces the feeling of a Tuscan villa on a steep slope complete with vistas and axes. You are taken away to another time, another place. If you are ever in northwestern Connecticut, Michael Trapp's shop and garden should be a must-see destination. There are many exquisite items, but each time I visit his shop, I manage to find a very special inexpensive artifact that I can use to embellish my garden. It is also a charming reminder of this alluring garden.


  1. Amazing stonework, especially that staircase.

  2. Les,

    Michael Trapp did almost all the stonework himself. The stairway down makes the visitor move slowly and carefully adding to the experience of entering the lower deeply shaded garden. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Wow - that's so close and I've never been - certainly an easier trip than Italy right now, and it looks magical in your pictures!

  4. Thanks very much for your comment. You are very fortunate to live in CT. Some of my favorite gardens (Michael Trapp's for example) are included in the Garden Conservancy's Open Days Directory in northwestern CT. I enjoyed taking a look at the latest posts on your blog.

  5. Love the extensive use of stone...those steps and walls are awesome!

  6. Scott,

    The walls are impressive. Makes me think the stonework I am hoping to do in my lower garden is not a big deal. Famous last words!! Thanks for commenting. It is a very cool garden.

  7. Looks like a great garden - a single unified theme can be so powerful.

  8. GW,
    I agree. It can be very difficult to be so disciplined. Your blog is great by the way! Thanks for wandering in here.



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