Urban Garden

This garden surrounds a recently renovated house, originally built in 1880 in the Gothic style. Once the center of a large estate, the residence is now surrounded by an urban area. Centerbrook worked with landscape architect Lester Collins to create a garden that provided an escape from the city while contributing to the landscape of the neighborhood.


Private Residence

Location Eastern United States
Year Completed 1996
Photo Credit Jeff Goldberg/Esto

A terraced path around the large house connects several gardens, a favorite concept of Lester’s, and allows children on bicycles and adults on foot to easily explore the landscape. Each garden takes advantage of the natural terrain.

The entrance to the house is from the north and it is dominated by the canopy of a 300-year-old oak tree. The lawn and driveway were refurbished and a Weeping Hemlock was carefully sited at the entrance to the drive. This landscape creates an open and welcoming entrance to the house. Narrow stone steps from the driveway lead to the east garden which takes advantage of a rugged rock outcropping. The rock has been exposed and the crevices planted with flowers to create a colorful view from the kitchen. A “fort” in the rock has a maze-patterned stone floor modeled after the floor in Amiens Cathedral. This garden provides a protected place for children to play.

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The terraced path from the east garden steps down the hill between stone walls planted with flowers to the south garden. This garden has been designed as an outdoor room bordered by flower walls and gothic trellises. In the center is an old stone grist wheel that has been turned into a fountain. Beyond, a formal perennial garden is found by wandering through a gothic trellis.

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Past the south garden, the terraced path leads to a grand porch on the house’s west and north sides. The west porch overlooks a large lawn that has been sculpted to provide views to the majestic river below. This lawn is shared with the neighborhood; it is ideal for sledding in the winter and watching the sun set year-round.