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Book News: “The Private Gardens of Connecticut”

Rural Intelligence StyleGardens go dormant as the cold weather settles in, but gardeners never do. “Now is the time I start thinking about what I am going to plant next year,” says author Jane Garmey, whose just-published collaboration with photographer John M. Hall, Private Gardens of Connecticut (Monacelli Press; $65), will set the mind racing with the possibilities for next spring. Garmey, who is English but never gardened until she and her husband bought a weekend house in northwestern Connecticut more than 30 years ago, has an autodidact’s curiosity, which is reflected in the thoughtful text that is filled with the sorts of juicy bits that you normally only pick up on a garden tour.  She and Hall spent nearly two years crisscrossing the state (which Garmey notes is the third smallest in the nation) to make the book live up to its name.  “We really wanted to show the great variety of gardens in the state—from the Long Island Sound to the Litchfield Hills,” she says.

Rural Intelligence StyleWhile some of the 28 gardens are regional favorites that are often featured on garden tours or Open Days (such as Michael Trapp’s in Cornwall and Bunny Williams’s in Falls Village), Garmey scored a coup by photographing the rarely seen Kent garden of Annette and Oscar de la Renta in (whose garden gate made the book’s cover) and the South Kent garden of philanthropist Anne M. Bass. “Those gardens are never on Open Days,” says Garmey. The book also features the garden of Agnes Gund, the former president of MoMA, whose landscape showcases sculptures by Richard Serra, Ellsworth Kelly and Mark De Suvero.

Rural Intelligence StyleWhile this is not a how-to book, Garmey and Hall only chose gardens where the owners were fully invested in their land, even if they have a full-time staff.
Garmey notes that Bass walks around the garden with her clippers in her hand and used to write out seed orders in Latin for her rose garden so she would learn the Latin names for all the species and have meticulous records for the more than 140 varieties of roses she grows. Garmey and Hall also chose mature gardens that have stories about their growth and evolution.  “You don’t make a good garden overnight,” says Garmey. “Well, you can, but I didn’t want that type of garden in our book.”

Rural Intelligence Parties and OpeningsPrivate Gardens of Connecticut (The Monacelli Press; $65)

Jane Garmey Book Signings

Saturday, October 9; 5 - 7 p.m.
Johnnycake Books
Salisbury, CT

Saturday, November 6 at 2 p.m.
Oblong Books
Millerton, NY

Saturday, November 21
Hickory Stick Bookshop
Washington Depot, CT

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 09/29/10 at 03:27 PM • Permalink