The Ornamental Garden
The basic layout of the Ornamental Garden — what he calls the “bones” of the Garden — was designed by Colin Cabot. The plantings were designed by renowned garden expert Bill Noble of Norwich, Vermont, who had been director of preservation for the Garden Conservancy.
Following Francis Cabot’s recommendation, many thousands of cubic yards of subsoil were removed, allowing the current arrangement of dry laid rock walls to be constructed in terraces climbing up from the Main House to the back driveway. The walls connect to an original 50-foot long wall along Sanborn Road that angles down from about four feet tall at the top to six feet at the bottom. The tilt of the wall creates a plane in the garden on top of it which slopes gently towards the house. Perpendicular to the original wall and parallel to the house are a series of walls punctuated by stairs climbing up through them to the height of the second floor of the wood shed/furnace building. Thus, the planes of the garden beds tilt in two directions.
At the lowest point in the Ornamental Garden, a small pool will catch the water from a waterfall that will be fed from a wall-mounted fountain several levels above. The lowest stone beds are devoted to alpine rock plants and spring bulbs. Buttressing an exterior chimney is a large clerodendrum. Epidemiums, hostas, clematis and butterbur (Petasites japonicus) surround the Solangerie (a conflation of Solarium and Orangerie), the structure in which many tender plants over-winter. Beauty bush (Kolkwitzia amabilis), honeysuckle (Lonicera), viburnum, and other climbing shrubs are trellised against massive stone towers separating the alpine beds.
The second level is populated with ornamental grasses, colewort (Crambe cordifolia), dwarf evergreens, Japanese maples, and clumps of peonies and Iris. This level can be reached by an ornamental iron staircase rising from the door of the Solangerie.
The third level comprises two rectangles. The first includes four perennial beds around a rare variety of Katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum), a type of Asian hardwood. Each bed features a different shrub: magnolia, viburnum, cornus, and hydrangea. The second rectangle features a Chinese Cork Oak (Quercus variabilis) on axis with the bow window of the Great Room in the Main House. Plantings are as yet undecided and will begin after the walls and waterfall are completed. Further up the hill is the site of the future re-erection of a 1919 Lord & Burnham greenhouse, which will be surrounded by a garden of native plants and grasses and which will sit on top of the 60,000 gallons of water in underground tanks for the fire suppression system for the complex.
The fire exit for the dormitory leaves the new Carriage Barn second floor via a bridge which passes through the furnace building and exits at the upper level of the garden, near a series of stone beds devoted to dry plants.