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The Rossetti Garden, 2013-2015

Former owner:
Sanford, Virginia Mrs.
Jamison, Scott
Garden maintenance:
Janisch, Paul
Marca, Anthony
Murphy, Meg
Sasqua Garden Club
Physical description:
1 folders+ 22 digital images
Mixed archival materials
United States of America, Connecticut, Fairfield, Fairfield
The Rossetti Garden (Fairfield, Connecticut)
The owners had lived on this four acre property for nearly six years when, after touring gardens in Tuscany and the Lake District of Italy, they decided to create an Italianate garden in their woodlands. Called the Upper Garden it is perpendicular to the smaller parterre garden and pavilion they had installed years earlier directly behind the 1960's colonial style house. The geometric layout of the Upper Garden followed classical proportions without being strictly formal, and the plant material that was chosen emphasized repetition, texture and the color green with mostly pink and purple flowers including roses, clematis, hydrangea and catmint. Since this part of the property was at a higher elevation two long arcing stone lawn steps, steps at the entrance and a retaining wall were the first projects. Groves of river birches were planted at the entrance with under plantings of shade garden perennials hostas, ferns and coral bells. An enormous urn planted with colorful annuals was sited in the center of the first garden room. Behind the urn an archway built into the stone wall with antique gates leads to a secret garden. To the right there is an allée of hornbeams pruned to resemble Italian cypress trees that are interspersed with hydrangeas in beds edged with boxwood. At the end of this double row of trees and shrubs an arbor gate leads to a vegetable garden that features an espaliered pear tree. A hedge along the far side separates the allée from the formal rose garden planted around an oval patch of lawn. Climbing roses and clematis cover four large trellises interspersed with arbovitae pruned to resemble Italian cypress. Three standard lilacs and three more trellises for climbing roses and clematis back up to the vegetable garden which is protected by fences.
There had been no gardening nor landscaping on the four acre property since the colonial style house was built in 1963, and by 1995 when the current owners moved in the original shrubs were overgrown, underbrush needed clearing and many dead and fallen trees had to be removed. Their first projects were installing a motor court alongside the house, two parterre gardens with urn features directly behind the house and a shady pavilion with seating inside and pergolas at each end. The front of the property sloped downwards to a small vernal pond and was planted with cuttings of pachysandra that have naturalized filling the space with a low maintenance ground cover that prevents soil erosion. A hedge of arborvitae was planted for privacy at the rear of the property that also disguised a green chain link fence to keep deer out. The property had poor drainage as well as poor soil so drains were installed and compost and leaf mold from the deciduous trees was used to amend the soil. The remaining approximately one and one-half acres were planted with grass with surrounding woodlands.
Persons associated with the garden include Mrs. Virginia Sanford (former owner, 1963-1995); Scott Jamison (landscape designer, horticulturist, 1997-present); Paul Janisch (garden maintenance, 1997-present); Anthony Marca (mason, 2000-2005); Meg Murphy (gardener, 2008- ).
The folder includes worksheets and a photocopy of an article.
Local number:
Access to original images by appointment only. Researcher must submit request for appointment in writing. Certain items may be restricted and not available to researchers. Please direct reference inquiries to the Archives of American Gardens:
Data Source:
Archives of American Gardens

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