On a High Note
Color, texture and architecture play in perfect harmony in this expansive and historic garde
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Jane Dunn, elegantly earthy in a crisp white linen shirt, Tiffany-blue shorts polka-dotted with dirt, and forest-green Muck clogs, is standing at attention in the circular drive.
She’s listening to the garden rooms on her five-and-a-half-acre property. The three-tier fountain, which looks like a wedding cake, provides a deep-throated backbeat for the highly colored notes of the hydrangeas, azaleas and peonies. Their sassy brassiness is shaded by the subtle notes of the wisteria, which has clasped a lavender necklace on the back of the house, and the doily-delicate leaves of the mimosa and locust trees.
“A proper garden is like a symphony,” Jane says. “Each flower contributes, comes and goes, and new flowers take its place. Sometimes, a plant’s sole purpose is to provide a contrast for a more showy flower. No one flower can carry the whole garden. In fact, each plant goes through much work and transition before it displays its full glory. Some flowers never need much attention. We seem to covet the ones that require more of our energy. But I’ve come to be thankful for the plants that simply reseed on their own.”
Tuck, Jane’s three-year-old standard poodle, adds his own tempo to the symphony as he trots by, his sharp nails click-clacking on the granite stones.
Jane was conducting gardens long before she and her husband, Vaughn, and their two now-college-aged children, Reed and Caroline, moved into the Georgian red brick house six years ago. An award-winning member of the Greenwich Garden Club, Jane’s seldom seen sans scissors and green watering can.
“Being a constant gardener, I’m always on the move overseeing the landscape of color,” she says. “I love to keep moving through the garden, and I look forward to enjoying how the sunlight reflects the radiance of all the plants. It was my mother who instilled my appreciation for gardening. In the summer, she used to go out at night with a flashlight to see her plants. I do the same thing.”
There’s much to keep Jane’s scissors —and her crew of gardeners—busy. The early-twentieth-century house, which has a 1939 wing, is on the site of a dairy farmhouse that was built in the late 1800s. Back then, it presided over 100 acres. Today, the property includes a guesthouse, a three-bay garage and a Roaring Twenties clapboard pool house with leaded-glass windows that Jane’s children have always called the Prancing Pony.
There’s also a greenhouse, a tennis court, a solarium, a swimming pool, a Jacuzzi, a pair of invisible-edge water features, a waterfall where black lion heads spit out streams of water and a whimsical wrought-iron pavilion with a filigreed dome.