Creating a plant-lover’s paradise
after Falling in love with a Francestown property, a couple restore the eighteenth-century house there and transform two of the acres into extraordinary gardens.
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Tall hedges provide privacy around the inviting pool. The design of the pool house was inspired by the garden pavilion at Hidcote in Britain.
Passing through the blue gate, the faun garden is next. Valentine calls this his “clipped green garden” since it doesn’t have any flowers, and is made up of sheared and shaped forms of yews, boxwoods and chamaecyparis. Boxwood is one of Valentine’s favorite plants, and his gardens have more than 150 boxwoods of eleven varieties with ‘Green Gem’, ‘Green Velvet’ and ‘Green Mountain’ being some of his favorites for their hardiness and winter color.
The next gate leads to the Zen garden where the perimeter beds have wide bluestone coping around the edge, separating them from the central grass court. To one side, there is a Japanese garden of three rocks set in sand, giving the eye a place to rest. This garden offers a quiet respite for the visitor, with a stone bench at one end and an eight-foot-tall by sixteen-foot-long, see-through wall acting as a room divider at the other end. Valentine borrowed this idea from a garden he visited in Rhode Island, and he calls it “the great wall.” It resembles a large, multi-paned window with a doorway and is anchored at each end by tall ‘Emerald Green’ arborvitaes.
“The combination of soft flowing grasses, and perennials mixed in the borders with the granite bench, the three rocks and the wall add an artistic element of hardscape and softscape working side by side,” says friend, artist and garden designer Maude Odgers, of The Artful Gardener in Peterborough, a frequent visitor to the garden.
Stepping through the doorway, visitors reach the central path that leads to the terrace at the rear of the house.
Early morning light washes over the garden and provides the perfect environment for taking photos. Joe Valentine provided all the garden photographs for this article and more of his work can be seen on his website, josephvalentine.com.
This peastone path is lined with yews, boxwood, arborvitae, peonies and a few Japanese maples in pots, leading to the bluestone terrace where Valentine and Hunter summer their collection of potted succulents. The deep burgundy flowers of Akebia quinata vines grow on the pergola overhead. Looking out from the terrace gives a sense of the architectural work that has gone in to this garden.
“I like the view looking straight down the path out to the farther boundaries of the garden, the various horizontal lines interrupting your view as the garden recedes into the distance,” Valentine says. “There are six layers of fencing and hedges, all texturally different and all at different heights that intersect the main axis at 90-degree angles.”
A large ‘Donald Wyman’ crabapple in full bloom acts as a focal point at the end of the path.
On the west side of the house, two tall tom pots of blue scaveola mark the transition from peastone paving to grass. Passing through the red gate, there is an allée of ‘Robinson’ crabapples on the left, marking the west entrance to the garden.
A wisteria covers the porch at the keeping room door, which opens onto the parterre. Here the layout is simple and geometric with a formal square of clipped boxwood, punctuated by a potted boxwood sphere in each corner. Across a wooden walkway, two metal urns planted with red calibrachoa mark the entrance to the fern-lined woodland path. A statue, called Miss Hospitality, beckons from the curve where the path winds back to the driveway.
“Every garden room at Juniper Hill Farm is a textural composition of shapes, colors and design,” Odgers says. “Everywhere one looks is a visual feast of artistic expression that moves the observer on many levels, as all fine art does.”
Hayward calls Hunter and Valentine’s garden a gem. “One of the keys to the success of their garden,” Hayward says, “is that Joe and Paula are working in tandem to create a balanced garden and a balanced life.”
Garden Conservancy’s Open Days
This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days program. The following New Hampshire gardens are open to the public in July:
July 11 and 12 • Bedrock Gardens • 45 High Road in Lee
Home to Jill Nooney and Robert Munger, this thirty-three-acre property is a place where art and plants meet. Nooney is an artist who creates metal sculptures from old tools and farm implements. Nooney and Munger’s garden not only provides the backdrop for her creations but is a work of art in itself. Not to be missed!
July 18 and 19 • Evergreen • 41 Summer Street in Goffstown
Home to landscape designer Robert Gillmore, this in-town property seems much larger than it is due to Gillmore’s clever use of winding paths and berms that block the view of neighboring homes.
July 18 and 19 • The Garden on Garvin Hill • 78 Garvin Hill Road in Chichester
A lovely, brick Colonial house sits high atop a hill with a commanding 270-degree view. Loaded with flowers, the property features English cottage-style gardens and a formal potager.
July 18 and 19 • Tiffany Gardens • 15 King John Drive in Londonderry
This one-acre garden shows what can be done on a small residential lot. More than twenty garden beds full of flowers and shrubs are connected by winding paths.
Tickets are $7 each, or six for $35 ($21 for Garden Conservancy members). For more information on additional private gardens open to the public in 2015, visit opendaysprogram.org.