The Main Garden Room. The Adirondack Chairs were painted to compliment and contrast the colors of the plantings. Notice a glimpse of the spiny leaves of the Monkey Puzzle Tree, Araucaria araucana.
Grandmother's Tiger Lilies
A small pool on axis with three garden rooms.
The garden house with pergola. Kirengeshoma palmata in bud.
A quite, elegant square lawn that was the first garden behind the House. Aralia elata 'Variegata' at the far edge.
Lanford Wilson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, died on Thursday. Several years ago, I had the opportunity to visit his garden in Sag Harbor, Long Island. The garden, probably about a third of an acre, was divided into rooms and was designed to be an extension of the house, a two-story wood-frame house built in 1845. The house had essentially no garden that could be seen from the street. There was a walkway along the house that lead to the gardens behind the house.
Although there were countless unusual plants, many from the original Heronswood catalogue, Wilson had included many old fashioned nostalgic plants. In particular, he recalled how the tiger lilies reminded him of his grandmother. My favorite tree in the garden was the monkey puzzle tree, Araucaria araucana, an unusual evergreen tree from Chile. It has a stiff growth habit with ominous spiny stiff leaves which added an exciting texture to the garden.
The garden was quite shady with numerous inviting seating areas. Having a small garden myself, I really appreciated how the formally laid out rooms made this small in-town garden appear larger. Wilson originally divided the plot into rooms using string. He made the paths two feet wide and they were aligned on axis with one another but something wasn't quite right. Later, a garden designer friend insisted on four-foot-wide paths but he resisted and made the paths three feet wide. Finally, he conceded and made the paths four feet wide and "pop" the proportions were right.
Like all the best private garden's I have visited, Lanford Wilson's garden was a very personal and idiosyncratic creation. I was very lucky to have had a chance to visit it.