United States of America, Connecticut, Hartford County, Farmington
Olsen Garden (Farmington, Connecticut)
This sunken garden was designed in the 1950s by noted landscape architect Fletcher Steele and, like many of his other designs, provides a bridge between Beaux Arts formalism and modern landscape design. Using the outside dimensions of the house, Steele designed a formal sunken garden to outline the perimeter of the rectangular suburban lot. To soften the feeling of a walled enclosure, he designed a series of multi-layered terraces filled with colorful flower borders and walkways to gracefully transition to a central flat lawn, large enough to accommodate many outdoor activities. He used native red sandstone for the stone walls, and for textural variety bordered the gravel walkway and flower borders with tufa, a porous stone made from lava, to create a rockery. Steele's sense of whimsy is evident everywhere, as in the low sandstone pedestals decorated with rams' heads and laurel swags to mark the edges of the stone steps and the corners of the garden. For theatrical performances he designed an elegantly curved, elevated stage at the far end of the sunken garden, facing it with a stone wall and covering it with grass. Arborvitae provide the screen backdrop.
Persons associated with the garden include Fletcher Steele (landscape architect, 1954-1956) and Mr. and Mrs. Stuart Ellsworth Smith (former owners, 1950s).
The folder includes worksheets, a site plan, a narrative description of the garden, and other information.