If you are a reader of such local upscale Connecticut magazines as athome, Greenwich or Westport Magazines, or national publications such as Garden Design, Horticulture, Luxe, House Beautiful, then you have undoubtedly seen the work of talented photographer Stacy Bass. Her award-winning photos of landscapes and interiors eloquently capture the essence of place with a sensuous light and luminosity that transport you directly into the lushness of the landscapes.
This past month, her first book, In the Garden, was published, celebrating 18 spectacular gardens here in the Northeast. As you gain exclusive access to these private enclaves, you explore, through Bass’ educated eye, the creativity expressed in these natural environments. From structured formality to rambling rustic meadows, each garden is brought to life through beautifully composed vistas and artfully shot details.
Accompanying the photography are short essays by Suzanne Gannon, offering insightful and entertaining information about the owners’ and designers’ visions. It is a perfect pairing. Thus we learn that the visual “Stairway to Heaven” above is “a lofty procession of grand terraces…on the terrace nearest the house is a jewel of a space: four quadrants of perennials – peonies, lupines, PeeGee hydrangeas, sedum, echinacea, dahlias, astilbe – each punctuated with its own dwarf lilac topiary trimmed to evoke a mushroom cap.”
In the same Connecticut garden, serpentine hedges of over 150 arborvitae form an impressive allee.
I did my best to capture the splendor of the amazing double page spreads in this oversized volume but they in no way express the vivid beauty of the originals. The owner of this seven acre estate in Connecticut commissioned an architect to design a pool house to echo the lines of the original 1958 federal-style house. The park-like property is an elegant ode to symmetry and structure.
Gerard and Arlene Pampalone’s Greenfield Hill garden is one of my favorites featured in the book. With a house dating from 1862, the gardens were in shambles when they purchased the property. Over the last 16 years they have worked tirelessly bringing the gardens into their current condition. The secret “Rose Garden” is a marvelous example of structure without being overbearingly pruned and perfect. Did you notice the charming “living bench” in the back? The backrest and arms are juniper and English box.
Their “West Garden” features eight intersecting borders. As with the rose garden, I love the contrast of the groomed with the more wild plantings as well as the architectural elements punctuated the green lushness.
Another Greenfield Hill garden provided Bass with this quintessential Connecticut shot.
Bass manages to capture not just the visual beauty but also the spirit of each garden. While Alease Fisher Tallman’s estate, Chelmsford, in Greenwich, CT has a distinguished pedigree, garden designer Phillip Watson rejuvenated the grounds without losing the feeling of relaxed timeless elegance. The woodland frog pond, guarded by a statue of Pan, is a peaceful spot that is somehow reminiscent of Tony Duquette’s Dawnridge.
And within the larger contexts, Bass finds smaller magical moments. Frequently shooting at dawn, much of Bass’ work has that misty evocation of nature awakening. Here a red-speckled foxglove bears witness of the morning’s dew.
Whether you are an experienced horticulturist or someone with a brown thumb like me, In the Garden offers something for everyone who appreciates the landscaped beauty of nature. Through Bass’ passionate lens we are privy to experience the exquisite light, color and majesty of these magnificent gardens.