United States of America, Maryland, Owings Mills, Baltimore
Brightside (Owings Mills, Maryland)
The five-acre Brightside gardens were built from 1983 to 2014 on a property with a large country house of white-painted bricks and a slate roof, surrounded by woodland shade and poor soil. Described as a dialog between the heart and the head there are 54 discrete garden areas, including Lutyens-style stairways, a potager, a cemetery for family pets with a statue of a beloved pug, gardens named after the neoclassical statues within them or the friends that designed or inspired them, a pool garden. Formal garden rooms are near the house and more rustic woodlands gardens are further from the house. Some of the hardscapes of the formal gardens were designed to echo the neoclassical lines of Baltimore Federal furniture. Each garden has a theme inspired by a quotation from philosophy, religion, literature or poetry that bespeaks the spirit of that area, with plantings that refer to the symbolic Victorian language of flowers. The owners have been inspired by their visits to hundreds of gardens and the Greek and Roman ideals embodied in neoclassicism and the American Federal and empire styles from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Among their favorites are the English garden design collaborations of Gertrude Jekyll and Sir Edwin Lutyens, William Kent's Rousham, Sissinghurst, Hidcote, and the fantasy elven gardens in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.
In 1990 woodlands were cleared of understory and hundreds of tons of soil were deposited under the remaining tall trees and dogwood to sculpt a new landscape. Within one week 500 rhododendron, 65,000 fern and 65,000 pachysandra seedlings were planted. There are six levels of woodland gardens descending from a ridgeline, 2,000 specimen trees, and amphitheaters and berms that have altered the contours of the lawns. Since most of the property is shaded native plants and shade tolerant specimen plants are featured. Garden ornaments include pedigreed statues, antique urns, birdbaths, boot scrapers and gates. Formal garden borders near the house in the room named Jessica's garden for its designer contain more colorful and sun-loving plants, including delphinium, peony, phlox, lilac, hydrangea and butterfly bush. For the owners these lyrical gardens are a retreat they liken to medieval gardens where man imposed rationality and beauty in a small part of the chaotic world.
Persons associated with the garden include Mr. and Mrs. S. Bonsal White (former owners, 1950's); Mr. and Mrs. A.B. Krongard (former owners, 1960's); Mr. and Mrs. John Lalley (former owners, 1970's); Charles M. Ness (architect, 1950); James A. Snead (architect, circa 1995-1998).
The folder includes worksheets, photocopies of images and an illustrated history of the family, house and garden.