East Coast Garden Tour - Mountsier Garden, New Jersey


Holy Garden Magic, Plantman!

This month I crammed myself and four hours worth of garden magazines onto an airplane to visit three gardens that I’ve been hearing about for years. The first is the magical Mountsier Garden in New Jersey. Set in a New Jersey neighborhood, this garden began years ago on a couple of lots and slowly grew like a giant, garden monster, gobbling up its mediocre surroundings and spitting out pure loveliness.

The shape of the gardens are not all at once clear. The joy of this garden comes in exploring a thoughtfully designed corner and coming upon a hint of even more garden. Curiosity and a slow pace is rewarded at every turn with a beautiful plant, unexpected landform, or well placed sculpture.

The way views are concealed then exposed then concealed is masterful, especially when considering the fact that designer Richard Hartlage has been designing for this garden for nearly 20 years. The flow is wonderful.

The sculpture, is not so much set in a garden gallery, but tucked into it. Everything fits and feels good in its place. Sculpture, and this garden, says owner Silas Mountsier, gives him great joy. It brings me joy too.

I’m having trouble describing this garden well enough. As I upload these photos I realize they don’t quite say enough. I’ve seen this garden numerous times in photos but did not expect what I found. Play, I think, is a good word for it. Like hide and seek. The kind of play that makes you giggle, even if you are alone.

These mounds wrap around and create a circular space. The leaves of three different hakonechloa species bop around in the breeze.

I sat in the this space and read for awhile. A butterfly kept me company for about ten minutes. Of course this garden would come with friendly butterflies. It probably has a loving family of unicorns also.

Here are some of my favorite plants in this garden. I thought the Spiraea was ‘Ogon’ bought now I am doubtful. Maybe YOU know? Its chartreuse leaves seem to create its own light. The pond cypress is a deciduous conifer one of the most underused and fantastic plants out there. In the spring its needles are translucent and glow with sunshine. In the fall they are golden/orange.

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