Friday, April 29, 2011

Spring in Nutley... Silas Mountsier's garden, midweek. Silas is in his early 80's, was born in this house, and belies his age entirely through a mixture of unforced charm, scandalously funny and slightly alarming true stories and a face in which pleasure in his guests, his garden and his table is reflected instantly.

His friend Graeme Hardie, who lives across the road, flew about, showing off the garden, pouring bubbly, passing around bites of hot sausages wrapped in puff pastry, and cooking and serving a four course lunch.

Hornbeams leafing out.

I have seen the garden in late summer, and in late April its spring emergence is breathtaking.

Richard Hartlage designed this space where every sight line is considered, and fresh. One reads about garden rooms and sightlines till one is bored to death (at least I am), but in a garden like this, where time, effort, talent, love and money have been brought together, the result is beguiling.

Under the melting cherry trees masses of Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) shared the shade with acid yellow trout lilies (Erthyronium sp), yellow Uvullaria grandiflora, pale green Lenten roses and a bright pink sweet pea-like flower I must identify.

Redbuds in full bloom in the circle of emerging Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra), in which hundreds of daffodils are just passing their peak.

Lessons in green...

A final view, from the street, of marching birches.

I feel very lucky to have enjoyed this garden again, and am sorry we ran out of time to see Graeme's, which is remarkable in its own right. I'll dig out my summer pictures and post them soon. 

Across the road a neighbour was felling a massive oak. I can't even think about it, said Silas, as we were seen off, as the saws whined and trucks roared. The trees stand like green buildings above the neighbourhood and are thought to be hundreds of years old. 

They said it was diseased, said Silas, but it isn't. His happy face folds. To a man who loves plants, who has transformed a garden over a lifetime by buying up neighbouring properties and making of the land something remarkable, the murder of the oaks that towered over his childhood is the only bitter note of the beautiful day.


  1. Sweetpea-like flower, pink, with those about Lathyrus vernus?

  2. My thought too, Paul. Funny, but redbuds are pea family too.

    Thanks for the great photos. I've got to get out to see that garden this fall.

  3. Paul, you're good.

    Brian, share in the honors.

    It is! I had NEVER heard of it! So exciting, thank you!

    Brian I'll post the date as soon as I know...

  4. Oooh,the kind of place where I could spend hours wandering about, especially in the spring when I am feeling so deprived... thanks for the photos. It won't be long now:-)

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