Sunday, February 08, 2009
A garden for a mansion
The strange little statues that surround the place will be removed.
This is the second year I will be participating (representing the magazine) in a decorator’s Show House, and this time we’re doing a garden, which is kind of exciting. Many of you may have these projects where you live. A large residence is decorated by a huge team of designers and the public views it (in April-May), the admission price benefiting a charity. Usually the house is between owners. In Buffalo, the Show House is run by the Junior League, a women’s group, and I imagine that this, too, is common.
The project: we (me, landscape architect Joy Keubler, and Urban Roots garden center) are attempting to create a sustainable demonstration garden, where people would learn about such strategies as composting, using rain barrels, using native plants, and designing with edibles. But it would also be attractive. Not such a tall order as one might suppose. Sustainable gardening is not as widespread in Buffalo as it should be, and the Show House is visited by thousands, most of whom have gardens. Normally, the SH gardens are simple little patio affairs, focusing more on paving and furniture than gardening.
This year’s house is gorgeous, an E.B. Green-built estate barely outside the city proper. It’s a 1929 French Provincial structure (click on the link to see interior images), with lots of distinctive details: plaster work, fireplaces, chandeliers, etc. I am not totally sure how many rooms there are, but for it to work for a Show House it needs at least 30, which it likely has. There are also large grounds (including a tennis court) and a little carriage house/garage. Our garden will be to the right of the drive leading to the carriage house, near some pine trees.
This (in the foreground) is more or less where we'll be installing; the chain link by the garage in the background will be removed.
I won’t be doing most of the heavy lifting on this, mainly just an advisory role, to make sure it has all the elements we need it to have. I’m thinking a repurposed wine cask as a rain barrel would be fun, as well as a solar fountain, and some native shrubs … More on this as it develops—the ground is still covered in white now, so it will be a while before we can work on it. All we can really do now is plan it and work with suppliers.
Comparatively speaking, it's a lot of work for a garden that will likely only exist for 4 weeks!