Beauty by the Sea

Once totally destroyed by a nor'easter. Christopher Thurlow's rejuvenated garden represents friendship and hope

(page 2 of 2)

There is a tale behind the lamb’s ears, the border that runs across each room in her garden. Back in 1976, when Chris was married with two small children, everything she planted died. “I had a black garden,” she admits. Since she didn’t have a lot to spend on her failed effort, her mother, a classic gardener from Alexandria, Virginia, gave her $200 with instructions: “Buy twenty varieties of plants, two of each, and place them in different areas of your yard. The plants will be your teachers.” Then her mother gave her a pot of lamb’s ears. “Plant this,” she said. “It will grow anywhere.”

The next summer, thirteen of the plants had made it, and the lamb’s ears became the unifying border and a constant reminder of her mother’s wisdom. “The plants will tell you where they want to live,” says Chris. “You decide which pattern you want them to live in.”
Under a large black oak tree sits the shade garden, an area of lush green plants. To add interest, Chris hung two dozen birdhouses. The wrens, thrushes and finches that live there bring another layer of natural interest and texture to her garden. In early spring, before the tree’s leaves fill in, tulips and daffodils have enough sun to bloom. “Let one thing replace another,” she says. “There is a great anticipation when there’s always something new that’s coming.”

Last to bloom in her garden is the seaside area, which is most bountiful in late July. A row of pink Fairy Rose bushes and wispy Speedwell alternate to create a pattern along the curved retaining wall. These plants are strategically placed here, as they are tolerant of sun, wind and saltwater spray. Unlike the other rooms in her garden, which run deep, the seaside garden is shallow, with just one layer of plantings, and of course the trademark lamb’s ears border. “I don’t want too much garden in front of the ocean,” she says. “I don’t want to compete with nature.”

The best view of the Sound is from the front porch, where a pair of white rose standards mark the steps that lead up to the house. On the porch, a table is set for an outdoor dinner, with colorful ceramic plates resting on placemats made of small polished stones. This tranquil spot is the couple’s favorite place to unwind. “Sitting on the porch on a soft evening and listening to the waves lap the shore is our idea of heaven on earth.”

After the sun sets, they watch the moon rise over the water while gazing down at the Moon Garden, which lies on the gentle hill that slopes down to the grass. Only white and silver plants, such as dusty miller, white petunias and verbena, bloom here. The setting, inspired by Vita Sackville-West’s famous Sissinghurst garden in England, is simple and serene.

“My garden gives me an internal sense of peace, contentment and satisfaction,” says Chris, as she surveys the space she designed entirely herself. “I don’t mind if my plants overgrow or fight each other for space. I always love them like my own children.”

Most important to Chris is to carry on her mother’s love for gardening and pass it down to the next generation. To that end, Chris, a board member of the Greenwich Garden Education Center, teaches classes at her home nearly every spring. She also volunteers her expertise at the Senior Center in Greenwich and teaches a botanical course at the Nathaniel Witherell Nursing Home, where she is designing and installing a therapeutic environment  garden. For this gardener, there is no greater happiness than sharing the secrets of the trade she knows so well.


Best Of Greenwich



Greenwich Agenda

  • Seaside Center: Shoreline Seining and Plankton Tow

     @ Seaside Center

    Help us gather plankton and see what creatures are living in our ocean’s water! Examine microscopic organisms caught in our plankton net...

  • Cool and Collected ‘14

     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    (Gallery 1) Featuring artists:  Carla Goldberg, Melanie Kozol, Francis Sills, and Eve Stockton Summer exhibition at Kenise Barnes...

  • Magazine Mavens | New Canaan, CT

     @ Greenwich Education Group New Canaan Campus

    A Summer Magazine Publishing Workshop for Aspiring Young Writers Calling all aspiring young writers. This July, Greenwich Education Group...

  • Richards: Semi Annual Sale | Greenwich, CT

     @ Richards of Greenwich

    Starting June 16th going through mid-August is Richard's semi annual sale. All Spring clothing will be marked down! Further markdowns will...

  • TREEHOUSES: Look Who's Living in the Trees!

     @ Stamford Museum & Nature Center

    Saturday, June 21 - Monday, September 1 Hidden in the leaves, snug in the trunk or burrowed under the roots, what types of animals actually...

  • Exhibit: Tales of Two Cities: New York & Beijing | Greenwich, CT

     @ Bruce Museum

    May 3 – August 31, 2014 Tales of Two Cities: New York & Beijing This exhibition focuses on two of the world’s leading...

  • Seaside Center: Squid Disection

     @ Seaside Center

    Join us for a special opportunity to learn all about these fascinating mollusks! Call (203) 637-3515 or email

  • Wine Time Social Hour | Greenwich, CT

     @ Barcelona Greenwich

    $4.00 select wines, $4.00 well drinks, and $3.00 beers.

  • Happy Hour | Greenwich, CT

     @ Morello Italian Bistro

    Refresh yourself with our famous Red & White Sangria! Don’t forget that during happy hour every day 4:30pm-6:30pm your 2nd drink...

  • Happy Hour Beauty Thursdays!

     @ ELLELA Cosmetics & Lashes

    Our Summer Happy Hour Beauty Thursdays are back at ELLELA Cosmetics! Hit the top of Greenwich Ave from 4pm to 8pm for the BEST Blowouts before...

  • Tree-Mendous Treks

     @ Stamford Museum & Nature Center

    Thursdays, July 10 - August 21, 3:30 - 4:30 pm After visiting our new exhibit, TREEHOUSES: Look Who's Living in the Trees, join one of...

  • Greenwich Harbor Sunset Wine Cruise | Greenwich, CT

     @ Delamar Hotel Dock

    The boat "Prudence" departs from the Delamar Hotel Dock on 500 Steamboat Rd. All the wine is sponsored through VALS with food...

  • Seaside Center: Coastal Scavenger Hunt

     @ Seaside Center

    Timed for low tide exploration. A scavenger hunt for nature’s treasures. 11:00 am: July 3, 17, 31, Aug 14, 28 3:00 pm: June 26, July...

  • Seaside Center: Seaweed Pressing

     @ Seaside Center

    Look at the different seaweeds around Greenwich Point and learn about their role in the marine ecosystem. We will end with a seaweed pressing...

  • Seaside Center: Arts and Crafts

     @ Seaside Center

    Let your creativity float free! Practice the art of Gyotaku fish prints; make a sundial, a shell wind chime, or fish bowl! Activities vary every...

  • Vals Free Weekly In-Store Wine Tasting | Greenwich, CT

     @ Val's Putnam Wine And Liquors

    Each Friday we feature new wines just released and new to market for you to have an opportunity to taste and learn about through our sponsored...

  • College Application Boot Camp | Greenwich, CT


    College Prep 360 will be offering two college admissions “boot camps” in their Greenwich office over the summer. The first workshop...

  • SAT & ACT Prep Classes

     @ Greenwich Education Group

    If you are planning on taking the SAT or the ACT in October or November, this is an ideal time to start your preparation! Once school begins,...

  • Greenwich: Creativity for Kids Hosts Creativity Day

     @ Smart Kids

    As a part of their U.S. movement, Creativity for Kids and Faber-Castell will be hosting a special Creativity Can event at Smart Kids on August...

  • Fabulous Forests Summer Family Campout

     @ Stamford Museum & Nature Center

    Saturday, August 2, 5:30 pm - Sunday, August 3, 9 am Discover the wonders of the Stamford Museum & Nature Center "after hours"...

Show More...

Most Popular Articles

  1. Beach Ball 2014
    Tod's Point
  2. Renaissance Ball
    Riverside Yacht Club
  3. Celebrating Hope 2014
  4. 5K Foam Fest: Brooklyn
    Floyd Bennet Field, Brooklyn, NY
  5. 93rd Annual Greenwich Horse Show
    The Milliken Estate