Tag Archives: The garden at Federal Twist

June 17 – Garden Conservancy Open Day at Federal Twist

Federal Twist will open for the Garden Conservancy Open Days on June 17 this year–earlier than ever before–and you are welcome to come. For information and driving directions, click on this link.

It’s been a rainy spring and I’m just back from almost a month in Spain and France. Over the next two weeks I’ll be busy “editing” the plants and pondering how to turn their profuse spring growth to best advantage.

The images in this post were taken on June 1 last year, so they are as close as I can come to showing what’s likely to be here on 17 June 2017 (a Saturday). I expect the daylilies will be in flower, the Japanese irises and Iris ‘Gerald Darby’, the Baptisias. Perhaps the Filipendula rubra ‘Venusta’ will be in bud. It all depends on the warmth of the coming days.

Come with an eye for detail. My garden is very much in the spirit of the layered plantings advocated so eloquently in Thomas Rainer’s and Claudia West’s book, Planting in a Post Wild World. Plant form and structure, and the interplay of shapes and textures, are the main thing in late spring and early summer here at Federal Twist.

Here is the Garden Conservancy description of the garden:  ‘When we moved into a mid-century house overlooking the woods, I immediately knew only a naturalistic, informal garden would be appropriate to the place. The garden is hidden. You enter through the house, where you first glimpse the landscape, a sunny glade, through a wall of windows. Huge perennials and grasses evoke an “Alice in Wonderland” feeling (many plants are taller than you). The garden is in the New Perennial tradition: plants are massed in interwoven communities, and emphasize structure, shape, and form—which are long lasting—rather than flower.

Begun as an experiment to explore garden making in the challenging conditions of unimproved, heavy, wet clay, the garden is ecologically similar to a wet prairie, and is maintained by cutting and burning. Much of the garden peaks in mid-July, when plants reach mature height and flower, then a second peak occurs in October when low sunlight makes the grasses glow in yellows, russets, and golds.

Two small ponds attract hundreds of frogs, insects, and wildlife. Many gravel paths open the plantings to extensive exploration. The garden has been featured in The New York Times, Horticulture magazine, and in two books, Gardens of the Garden State (2014) and Planting in a Post-Wild World (2015). Recently, it appeared in the Garden Design Journal, the magazine of the Society of Garden Designers (UK) in January 2016, in the September 2016 in Gardens Illustrated, and the October issue of Better Homes & Gardens.’

Please consider visiting on June 17. Tickets, available at the door, are $7, fully in support of the work of the Garden Conservancy.

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I’ve recently started a small garden design business on retirement from my full-time work. To visit my garden design website, click on the link below:

www.federaltwistdesign.org

Federal Twist in Gardens Illustrated

An article on Federal Twist is in the September Gardens Illustrated. This issue won’t reach the US until sometime near the end of September. So here, forthwith, a scan, which I realize may be difficult to read (click images to enlarge them, click again to enlarge more).

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Continue reading Federal Twist in Gardens Illustrated

Looking Back on 2013

Musing over the photos of last year’s garden, I realize I lost most of the late winter and spring. Constructing the new reflecting pool and surrounding area, then replanting the construction site took most of my attention and made a mess of the garden. Apart from the winter interest provided by an ice storm in early January, the 2013 garden year didn’t really start until well into May.

January

An ice-coated garden

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  Continue reading Looking Back on 2013

In praise of weather

This being the first fall in three years the garden hasn’t been trounced by early blizzard or hurricane, I’m thanking whatever powers may be for the aesthetic gifts of  the weather–fog, rain, cloudy days, the low autumnal sun when the clouds let it through.

Thursday morning, December 5, presented fog and a cloudy sky. Fog being a cue for a walk in the garden, I quickly threw on some clothes and headed out. We start outside the house, looking through the plantings that screen the high edge of the terrace, across the garden below, then descend to walk the paths of the main garden.

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Continue reading In praise of weather

The Good-for-Nothing Garden

Coverage in The New York Times… I admit it; I feel exposed in an uncomfortable way. But as a friend was kind enough to point out to me at dinner Monday night, “Jim, you’re not the center of the universe.” So click on this link and you’ll go to a story about me and my garden. I’d use The New York Times photo, but they might sue me.

By the way, you’re invited to my Garden Conservancy Open Days on this Saturday, October 19, 10 am to 4 pm.

Mobile and mobility

I didn’t know I needed a red mobile in my garden.

Susan Cohan came to visit on a recent Saturday. She saw a sign for exhibits of local sculptors. We were passing John McDivit’s place on River Road and and Susan suggested we stop to take a look.

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Continue reading Mobile and mobility

Hold the Date – Federal Twist will be open for the Garden Conservancy Open Days on Saturday, Oct. 19

The Garden at Federal Twist will be open as part of the Garden Conservancy Open Days program for a second time this year–on Saturday, October 19, from 10 am to 4 pm. Please come if you can. This garden is all about seasonal change; cool nights and recent rains  have moved the garden well along the way to  reds, oranges, and multihued browns of autumnal dissolution and decay. Click on the photo below to see a selection of photos over the past year.

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For driving directions and other information on the Garden Conservancy web site, click here.

Nightfall: what are gardens for?

Late yesterday I walked the garden at nightfall. The atmosphere was so redolent of memory and emotion I won’t attempt to describe it. I think these photos, taken between 7:47 and 8:11 pm, do that. The air was cool, the sky clear. A bird I didn’t recognize occasionally sqawked its harsh, angry call of warning from somewhere in the tangled undergrowth.

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  Continue reading Nightfall: what are gardens for?

Different gardens

Patterns of use, or nonuse, are beginning to clarify the nature of the Brooklyn garden. I was reminded of that yesterday when we made our first visit to the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, the new building on Benjamin Franklin Parkway where Albert Barnes’ extraordinary art collection is now on display. In the lower lobby, and extending up through two levels to the roof opening, is a striking glass-enclosed garden planted with ferns and several tall Ginkgos and Sweet Gums rising through the building. Most definitely a garden to be looked at. There’s no way to enter it.

Continue reading Different gardens

Garden Diary: Integrating a new place

Perhaps a pool net isn’t the ideal focal point for the newest part of the garden, but it does catch the eye and gives a sense of scale. And there’s something about that blue I like.

Continue reading Garden Diary: Integrating a new place