The garden of Peter Wooster is a revered jewel-of-a-garden in Roxbury, Connecticut that has been long-admired for its intimate design and incredible collection of plants. Rob Girard, gardener extraordinaire (and a contributor to BBG’s Contained Exuberance show this summer) will take us on a tour through this four-square garden.
Begun more than 25 years ago as a collector’s garden by architect and landscape designer Peter Wooster, the original guiding principle was “We’ll take one of everything”. Over time it became recognized for its great plantsmanship and unusual perennials, shrubs, annuals, and exotics, as well as for its simple but elegant architectural form.
Covering only a half acre, there are six large, rectangular beds framed by grass paths with a border that ties it all together. The paths serve to contain the mixed English border-style plantings that have been referred to as ‘a botanical zoo’.
Over the years, the maturing trees and shrubs have turned what was once a mostly sunny perennial garden into a mostly woody garden with a change in scale and light. The plantings have evolved to support the changing conditions, fostering the garden’s diversity while continuing to be of great interest to visitors and still maintaining its primacy as an organizing point for this artful collector’s garden.
After a stroke in 2006 left him partially paralyzed, with limited vocabulary, Peter Wooster of Roxbury, Connecticut, the renown gardener and architect of homes for such high-profile clients as James Taylor and Stephen Sondheim, continues to pursue creative self-expression through vivid visual imagery. True, Wooster can no longer draw or write up or describe out loud what he has in mind. But images—photographs, in particular—speak to Wooster as they always have, and through them he continues to express himself as emphatically as ever in the role of collage artist.
With pictures as the words he cuts and pastes into boldly punctuated metaphorical paragraphs, and several well-received gallery shows already to his credit, a new limited-edition book, Collage, is set to debut Sunday at a reception at Pergola Home in New Preston.
“Peter was always known for his pithy plantings in the garden,” says Tovah Martin, the acclaimed garden author and fellow longtime Litchfield County resident. “Basically, he led the trendsetting movement toward marrying highbrow architectural kitsch with zany horticulture. Now, he takes that sharp wit into another art form, teaching us to see anew.”
In the preface to her first book of poems, Sydney Eddison tells her story of living a “charmed life” with her husband in a house full of dreams, animals, good friends and beautiful gardens. In 1995, a car accident left her husband seriously injured. Sydney describes the accident as a wake-up call. After three months in a nursing home, he came home with a pronounced limp, having suffered two broken knees. Sydney, who had leaned on her husband for thirty-five years, learned how to be self-reliant.
After the death of her husband, Sydney was able to remain in her home, but she relied on her close friends to help her. Peter Wooster, a young man she met through gardening, was one of those friends. When Peter had a stroke, robbing him of his speech and mobility, Sydney was able to lend him a hand. Every Sunday afternoon they would meet and Sydney would assist Peter in his work as a collage artist by placing and pasting the images he created on a mat board according to his directions. In short, Sydney became his hands.
Peter Wooster is renowned for design and renovation work for such luminaries as Stephen Sondheim and James Taylor. He has redesigned extremely successful venues such as the restaurant Orso in Manhattan and its sister locations in Los Angeles and London.
More recently, after a stroke, Wooster sought alternative methods of creative expression. He drew in charcoal and dabbled in watercolor and made dazzlingly colorful pictures in colored pencil. Emerging from a fascination with playing with colored paper and overlapping them, his artistic expression was channeled into intensely soulful collages.
Peter Wooster’s Roxbury garden is eavesdropping on an evolution
All gardens evolve. Watching a garden change daily, seasonally, annually is definitely part of the allure when you forge a relationship with the land. So let’s assume that the fluctuations of time would probably have altered Peter Wooster’s garden somewhat. But in this case, fate also had its way with the famed Roxbury landscape. The results are different from the garden as we originally knew it. But they are nonetheless wonderful Read More…