Don't Try this at Home (Note to Self)!
When the rustic miniature Parthenon began to rise mirage-like above the orchard’s apple trees, I knew I was in trouble. Such are the pitfalls of the garden conservancy’s open days program, which gives the public a rare peek inside some of our country’s finest private gardens, and inspiration for things to try at one’s own home. On this recent Saturday in mid-June, we happened to be at the Falls Village garden of Designer Bunny Williams, Equal parts New England charm and Marie Antoinette’s hameau, this was another world altogether, and offered plenty of inspiration. The problem was there were no price tags or accompanying cautionary copy with some of these concepts to dissuade those without the requisite budget time, or skill, ie me.
Why fabricate the columns of this rustic temple cum pool house in a simple humdrum Doric order when ionic capitals are so much more elegant? Looking so deceptively simple to make at first glance, it took me a moment before remember my struggles attempting to get the rustic arbor I built in my own garden to resemble something more than a bunch of sticks lashed together.
Brendan looked wistfully at the pool before exploring the comfortably furnished pool house.
While marveling at it, I couldn't help thinking of the converted outbuilding we use at our own place. Leaving a seat cushion on the deck outside, no matter for how short a time, has it generally sporting a fresh blob of bird poop upon one’s return. “ How did she manage to keep the birds from building nests or pooping in this open-air space?” I thought as I furtively looked for plastic snakes or owls to ward off avian nesting and soiling urges, but saw none.
After wending through a wooded area, an urn signaled a transition to a more formal garden nearby, defined by trimmed boxwood, anchored by an outdoor seating area and a conservatory on either end.
It was here that we met Bunny herself, who was the personification of grace and charm. Chatting briefly, she told us the barn was open and encouraged us to look inside, directing us to the conservatory behind her.
We walked through the elegant space then past a flower room anyone forced to use their kitchen sink at home for flowers to swoon over.
We entered a great room, and by that I mean great in every sense of the word.
The space was so inviting, grand and comfortable at the same time. It was hard to leave, but we pressed on to find the barn. It wasn’t until we walked through the french doors and saw them from the outside that we realized we had just been in it.
I had always dreamed of having chickens, but the idea of the rodents attracted by their feed that would come with them had squelched that idea. Bunny’s twin coops connected by an octagonal aviary reignited my desire. Surely no rat would dare come here, or if they did, they would be all-white, probably dressed as Watteau shepherdesses or in livery, which didn’t seem that bad. I sighed as we got back in the car and headed home.
Although there were some things I had admired that seemed translatable for my own home (such as neatly trimmed boxwood, and potted plants grouped and arranged with a studied casualness), at the top of the list were:
1. A classic temple wrought in native materials to function as a pool house (never mind that I don’t have a pool)
2. Twin chicken coops connected by an interesting shaped aviary and livery for any rats it might attract.
3. Convert my barn into a great room, with a conservatory and flower room on the side.
These will of course come right after winning the lottery or proving I am really love child the Warrant Buffet and Jacqueline Mars. Until either of those things happens, the first three probably wouldn’t.