United States of America, Connecticut, Fairfield County, Darien
The Rosenberry Garden (Darien, Connecticut)
This two-acre property is located in northern Darien just south of the New Canaan border in a section originally known as Flatte (or Flatt) Ridge. In 1880 a small farmhouse was built by Lewis St. George. The house, with additions over the years, today bears a plaque from the Darien Historical Society designating it as the "St. George House 1880." William M. Lybrand, who acquired the house in 1932 from Sara Hadley Bennet, expanded the property to fifty acres and had the St. George House renovated for a caretaker. In connection with the design for the main house, he hired landscape architect Noel Chamberlin of New York City to landscape the grounds of the estate. Chamberlin was educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was notably involved in the design of the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, Florida and the gardens of Applecross in Greenville, Delaware. Part of the plan for the St. George House included a large formal garden, designated for cuttings, situated around one of the original farm wells located in the western part of the property. It was surrounded by a yew hedge planted in a shield shape and accessed from the estate's driveway. In 1959, the estate was sold and divided. The St. George house on two acres, including the formal garden, was sold to Peter Johnson.
When the current owners acquired the property in 1979 the garden has been abandoned and allowed to deteriorate. The unsheared yew hedge had grown to 30 feet in some places. In the spring of 1980 Ned Johnson, the head arborist at the Bartlett Arboretum, freed the hedge and advised the owners on the necessary steps for its rejuvenation. With the hedge suggesting the bones of a garden, the current owners outlined, edged, dug, and planted beds, creating a secret garden. Initially it was a garden of roses, tree peonies, perennials, annuals, and vegetables.
A new garden for vegetables was created on the north side of the property. This eventually evolved into a garden divided into four quadrants of dahlias and asparagus anchored by a garden shed. With the assistance of Tad Sanford of Young's Nursery in Woodbury, Connecticut, they developed a woodland garden and meandering path to create space for shade-loving plants. Much of the lawn between the woodland and the house was allowed to become field, gradually filling in with wildflowers. The growing deer problem necessitated surrounding the secret garden with deer fencing and deer resistent plants outside the fence.
Persons associated with the garden include Lewis St George, (former owner, 1880-1919); Sara Hadley Bennet (former owner, 1919-1932); William M. Lybrand (former owner, 1932-1959); Peter Johnson (former owner, 1959-1979); Noel Chamberlin (landscape architect, 1939); Ned Johnson (Bartlett Arboretum arborist, 1980-1983); Tad Sanford (garden designer).
The folder includes a written description of the garden, a garden features plan and key, a plant list, a side view plan, and photocopies of the garden and planting plans done by Noel Chamberlin.
This property is featured in The Story of Flatt Ridge, Darien by Vera Colton Halstead, 1949