Rural New Hampshire Features Victorian Garden
For years people have been telling me about The Fells in the Lake Sunapee area in Newbury, New Hampshire.
John M. Hay, who once served as secretary to President Abraham Lincoln, built a summer house and garden which he then called The Fells.
Last week I drove up to The Fells to check it out for myself.
The Fells history begins in 1891 when Mr. Hay, later Secretary of State, buys the property.
Today the property features a 22-room Colonial Revival House with several gardens. I loved the gardens because they represent the garden fashion of the late 19th and early 20th centuries
The Old Garden, built in 1909, was the estate’s first signficant garden space, with three formal walled rooms in the woods. [below]. Since this garden grew in shade, I saw plants like ginger, Japanese painted fern, pulmonaria, and ferns.
This garden, built with straight lines and beautiful plants and tall trees, felt peaceful and provided a sense of relaxation.
There were other gardens on the property as well, like the Rose garden near the house that now includes the beautiful lisianthus in several spots in full bloom.
A few feet away I found the rock garden which was planted by the grandson of John M. Hay. This third generation gardener used over 600 species of alpine plants. I walked its rock path to the bottom of the garden. Most enjoyable. The plants are all thriving on that hillside.
A 130-foot perennial border lines the front lawn. It features a beautiful selection of plants that provide bloom most of the summer and into the fall. Such borders were in fashion at the turn of century, especially since English garden designers Gertrude Jekyll and William Robinson recommended them.
Beyond the front wall of the house you see an extensive meadow that is home to birds and monarch butterflies.
The trees that border the property along the shore of Sunapee Lake have grown so high now that it is difficult to see the lake in the background. At times I was able to snatch a peak. In the nineteenth century a boat would bring summer residents from the local train station to their homes.
There is a stone parking area behind the house, and on one side, enclosed in a canopy of small trees, you see a white statue of Hebe, cup-bearer of the gods. [below]
The trip was well worth it. What a garden this is. All I heard about The Fells turned out to be true.
This garden today is well maintained and continues as a tribute to the three generations of the Hay family who built it.