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The Element of Surprise Fills Two Gardens: One Old, the Other New

I remember visiting the grand eighteenth century English garden Stourhead a few summers ago.

As I walked the property early on that bright June morning, I never knew what I would see next. First, through a path in the woods, I came up to the house with its enormous lawn, followed by the grotto, then the Pantheon, and finally the Palladian bridge.

Bridge at Stourhead
Palladian bridge at Stourhead

The walk became a path of surprise just going from place to place.

The English garden of the eighteenth century treasured that element of surprise. It still remains a worthwhile feature to strive for in the garden.

Recently I visited the Tiffany Gardens Bed and Breakfast in Londonderry, NH as part of the garden tour sponored by the New England Chapter of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. I also discovered when I arrived at the garden that the Garden Conservancy had included it in its NH tour dates that same day.

Tiffany Gardens Bed and Breakfast, Londonderry, NH
Tiffany Gardens Bed and Breakfast, Londonderry, NH

I appreciated the many details that made up this Bed and Breakfast garden: the rise and fall of the earth as you walked through the garden, the pathways, the water features, the sculpture, and especially the collection of stunning plants, each carefully marked for the visitor. Also, all of it seemed quite a bit to assemble in such a small space since the garden was less than an acre. The best thing about the garden, however, had to be its surprise element. As you walked through it, you had no idea what was coming. It was a most enjoyable way to spend a summer afternoon.

Now I see why I remember so well the classic garden at Stourhead.

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