The Slowest of the Performing Arts

“Gardening is the slowest of the performing arts.”
~ garden historian Mac Griswold

house from the meadow
house from the meadow

This last weekend, I visited the 84-acre estate and gardens of The Fells, formerly John Milton Hay’s home. (Hay was Secretary of State to McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt, and private secretary to President Lincoln.)  This great chunk of land is part of over 800 acres originally owned by the Hay family; 675 acres now belong to the Society for Protection of NH Forests, and about 80 acres to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for their wildlife refuge system.

The Fells has been gardened in one way or another since the late 1880s, evolving over time, without or without the tending of gardeners. John Hay’s wife, Clara, started with a garden of roses and hydrangeas.

climbing white hydrangea wall in rose terrace
climbing white hydrangea wall in rose terrace
delphinium in bloom by house
delphinium in bloom by house
delphinium blooms
delphinium blooms

In time, their son Clarence, and his wife, Alice, transformed rocky sheep pasture into terraced lawns and formal gardens, particularly to suit Alice’s tastes for a neater perennial border and fragrant rose garden.

terrace
terrace
side of house with terrace
side of house with terrace
artist, hedge, sculpture
bit of perennial border, artist, hedge, sculpture

Clarence favoured a garden where wild and cultivated edged side by side (a permaculture gardener before his time), which he created, as well as a large rock garden, with a small stream running through it, on a hill facing Lake Sunapee.

stone pathway down rock garden
stone pathway down rock garden
rock garden, pond, and sculpture
rock garden, pond, and sculpture
chipmunk eating in moss by rock garden
chipmunk eating in moss by rock garden
garden with Sunapee views
garden with Sunapee views

Today there are remnants of the Old Garden, as it’s called; many rhododendrons that have been there for decades; both the perennial border and the rose terrace; the rock garden and its small pond; and views to the lake, and a meadow and woods through which one can reach the lake in a 10-minute downhill walk.

The Old Garden

old overgrown steps in Old Garden
old overgrown steps in Old Garden
seating area in Old Garden
seating area in Old Garden
boxwood, pool, in Old Garden
boxwood, pool, in Old Garden
European ginger and rock wall in Old Garden
European ginger and rock wall in Old Garden
rock wall in Old Garden
rock wall in Old Garden
rhododendron path
rhododendron path
rhododendron path with brick steps
rhododendron path with brick steps

Walking to and from the Lake

meadow, trails
meadow, trails
house peeking above meadow
house peeking above meadow
stone wall and stairs from meadow to old tennis court
stone wall and stairs from meadow to old tennis court
mosses on trail to lake
mosses on trail to lake
trees and path on the way to the lake
trees and path on the way to the lake
boundary sign
boundary sign
Lake Sunapee view
Lake Sunapee view
boat and kayak moored on Lake Sunapee
boat and kayak moored on Lake Sunapee
another boundary sign
another boundary sign

The day I was there, it was Plein Air art day, with about a dozen artists working outside in oil, acrylic, watercolour, charcoals, and pastels, re-creating the landscape. That’s in addition to the sculpture show also going on. The art of nature, the nature of art.

The Entelodont sculpture, by Bob Shanahan
The Entelodont sculpture, by Bob Shanahan
face of The Entelodont sculpture, by Bob Shanahan
face of The Entelodont sculpture, by Bob Shanahan
sedum and others growing in steps
sedum and others growing in steps
painting on the terrace
painting on the terrace
painting on easel by hedge
painting on easel by hedge
"Transported 1" by Bruce Hathaway
“Transported 1” by Bruce Hathaway
art with a view
art with a view
more art with a view
more art with a view
paintings on the ground
paintings on the ground
pink sedum bloom, close
pink sedum bloom, close

 

 

 

One Comment on “The Slowest of the Performing Arts

  1. Pingback: What In You Can Answer To This Blueness? – A Moveable Garden

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