Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Babe Paley's Secret Garden
I know little- very little- about gardens and gardening, and perhaps one of these days I'll remedy this situation. However, I suppose that I know enough to be familiar with Russell Page, the esteemed British garden designer. And, of course, the whole world knows who Babe Paley was. So, whether you're a garden aficionado or a novice like me, you might be interested in these photos, which depict the Russell Page-designed garden of Babe and William S. Paley.
Located at their Long Island estate, Kiluna Farm, the garden was designed mostly by Page, with additional input provided by Paley's friends, Henry Francis du Pont and Thomas Church. When the Paleys purchased this property, the garden lacked "mystery", according to Babe, and felt "too constricted and enclosed," especially considering that dense woods hovered beyond its rose beds. Paley decided that a new garden was in order, one which would cut into the untamed woods and have a proper focal point. Mrs. Paley also wanted a "secret garden" feel to the space.
Page and Paley first cleared out a dell that would serve as the garden's focal point, and then planted it with a so-called "punch bowl", which was essentially an oval pond that was surrounded by grass. The "outer frame" of the punch bowl was planted with various groundcovers and flowering trees and shrubs. (You can see what all of this means in the photo at top.) Japanese azaleas were preserved from the old garden and replanted along the sides. In addition to the azaleas, you'll also see rhododendrons, dogwoods, oak trees, and tulip poplars.
If any of you garden-savvy readers wish to add any pertinent information or comments to this post, please do so. Even after reading the Architectural Digest article from which these photos came, I'm still a little muddled as to the intricacies of the garden's design. (And I'm still a little confused about the secret garden aspect. Is it that the garden doesn't fully reveal itself upon first glance???) I'm just hoping that the photos can and will do the talking!
All photos from Architectural Digest, November/December 1975, Richard Champion photographer.