New Fountain in the Formal Gardens

Curator of Collections

The new garden fountain at the Inn has been generating lots of interest and questions. Here are some answers!

Prior to establishing the formal gardens as we know them today, Lila Webb created a large French-style parterre garden, which was in place by about 1900. Meant to be viewed from above, geometric-shaped beds of annuals and perennials radiated from a central sundial. 

Pergola with central fountain, ca. 1920.
By 1912, the parterre garden was replaced by a larger and more complex Italianate garden with low brick walls enclosing a series of levels connected by short stairways -- what we know as today's garden. The northern end was anchored by a large pergola braced by a semi-circular brick wall and punctuated by a deep, oval reflecting pool (above).

Oval reflecting pool getting filled in, October 1953. Derick Webb photographs album
By the mid 1940s this area was overgrown and by the early 1950s the pool was filled in, as evidenced in this 1953 photo. The failing pergola was removed following a hurricane in 1953. The oval eventually became a new garden space.

Over the past several months horticulturist Paul Wieczereck redesigned this outdoor space at the northern end of the garden to reinstate some of the features lost over time. A contemporary ornamented, two-tier fountain was installed on the site of the reflecting pool to reintroduce a water element. The surrounding garden design is a nod to Lila’s early interest in parterre gardens. As for the plant material, Paul explains "The main 'bones' of the garden are the four compact European Hornbeam, Carpinus betulus 'Columnaris Nana' and several evergreen Korean Boxwood, Buxus sinensi var. insularis. The Hornbeams repeat the vertical accents of the tall, narrow Arborvitae in the existing garden and provide continuity; the clipped shapes of the boxwood add a necessary element of formality, particularly as they mature. A variety of perennials and some annuals complete the rest of the planting. Once established, the plants will hopefully require a minimum amount of supplemental irrigation, reflecting our commitment to low input, sustainable agriculture."

For more on the history of the Formal Gardens, visit this blog.

The Formal Gardens are open to the public via our walking trails. 

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