United States of America, New Jersey, Morris, Chatham
Bent-McDowell Garden (Chatham, New Jersey)
The Bent-McDowell Garden shows how a professional garden designer may work her own half-acre. The garden was installed in nine stages over the course of ten years, beginning with a sunny flowerbed next to the house. Shrubs, bulbs and perennials were chosen to provide color from early spring into the fall in the next stage, which expanded the initial garden. Next a twenty-foot long rose garden was installed, with wisteria for early bloom and clematis for fall bloom in addition to the climbing roses. Foundation planting in front of the house features early pink spring blooms on a deciduous azalea and a Japanese plum tree and a white star magnolia tree. Stage five was the installation of a damp shade border nearly fifty feet long that included viburnum, oakleaf hydrangeas, a golden larch tree whose needles provide fall color, and perennials including bleeding heart, ferns and hosta. Two pre-existing woodland gardens at the back of the property were improved in the next stage, with the addition of many spring bulbs, featured garden seating and ceramics, and a meandering dirt path edged with tree branches. In stage seven bulbs, flowering shrubs and perennials were planted around a brick patio, leaving an unplanted side to view the woodland gardens. Next most of the front lawn was replaced by a dry shade garden with a native stepping stone walkway, unfenced and therefore planted with bulbs, perennials and ferns that deer dislike. Finally, a moon gate and fence were added, connecting the house and garage.
The original house, built in the 1930s, was a Sears catalog house, believed to be either "the Cedars" or "the Lorain". Former owners expanded the house, nearly doubling it in size, but retaining the cottage style. The garden is entirely fenced against deer and has two entrances, an arbor with a Chippendale style gate and the moon gate. Part of the fencing is architectural in style while the less visible portions are wire mesh that keeps out deer.
Persons associated with the garden include: Ronald and Nancy Bendelius (former owners, 1968-1986); Douglas and Kathryn Hinton (former owners, 1986-1990); Joan Eastman Bennett (gardener, 1970-1980); Marta McDowell (garden designer, 1990-2010).
The folder includes worksheets and a photocopy of the designer's website.