Beauty by the Sea

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

The seawall border consists of Fairy Roses, Speedwell and lamb’s ears. The yellow plants are daylilies.

Photographs by Hulya Kolobas

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As Christopher Thurlow walks me through her garden on a warm June afternoon, it feels more like the tour of a house. She strides briskly along, snapping off the tip of an overgrown plant, naming each “room” along the way, then describing the purpose it serves. Behind her stretches Long Island Sound, bringing beauty — and plenty of salt spray — to her garden. A native Virginian, Chris learned the art of seaside gardening at her home in Old Greenwich, where she and her husband, Steve, a former NFL football player, raised their two children.

Her garden has many stories to tell, beginning with its rebirth. When a violent nor’easter ripped through the Connecticut coastline on December 11, 1992, five-foot waves crashed into the house and started a flood that reached to the windows. They evacuated that night and lived, for more than a year, in the homes of friends who were away. When they moved back in, the house, which had been raised four feet on their three-quarters of an acre, was sound, but Chris was still heartbroken. The garden was gone.