Shape Shifting


In both horticulture and art, this six-acre garden in the Green Spring Valley is all about sculpture. Even before the couple (a retired T. Rowe Price executive and a retired math teacher/community volunteer) started collecting, they had created a sculpturesque garden. Curved paths, stone walls, flowing garden rooms, interesting tree and plant collections all had sculptural form.

In 2000, when the couple and their two daughters moved to the 1945 Georgian brick house, the property had no significant gardens. The addition of a portico, pool and pool house, a garage and cobblestone courtyard soon redefined the space. Enter David Thompson, founder of Foxborough Nursery, Inc., who worked with the couple to create gardens influenced by their regular trips to England. “We love English gardens,” says the wife, who describes her style as more casual and her husband’s as more formal.

Soon was born, in classic English form, a garden which used the “borrowed” landscape around it to frame a series of flowing garden rooms that open one after the other. Some are open and casual, others clipped and formal. A preference for cool, quiet tones sets a palette of white, blue and pale pink, with occasional warm tones used in dozens of containers that further the sculptural bent.

Moving via green corridors and hallways, visitors are struck by the surprise of what gradually appears and by diverse plantings whose varied textures and shapes play well off of each other. Repetition creates a harmonious flow. Throughout the gardens, for example, are majestic blue atlas cedars, delicate and curvaceous Japanese maples, clipped boxwoods as geometric hedges or spheres.

A dozen garden rooms had been well-established before 2007 when the couple started incorporating sculpture. The sculptors are all represented by Halcyon Galleries in London where the owner is on the board. Soon the gardens included works of three very different artists: Lorenzo Quinn (son of actor Anthony Quinn), Simon Gudgeon (internationally well-known, wildlife sculptor) and Wu Ching-ju (the most famous contemporary sculptor in China). Quinn’s typically include hands or spheres,
Gudgeon’s are animals and Ching-ju’s often are women. The sculptures are not grouped by artist but placed in whichever garden seems best.

“My husband is the chooser; I’m the placer,” says the wife, whose strong sense of artistry and mathematical precision play out in spot-on, subtle and interesting placements. “Each is placed so it doesn’t take over the spot…so it’s a pleasant surprise and melds.”

Ching-ju’s “Deep Within Me” appears in the East Garden after a visitor has passed it well tucked in among smoke trees. Gudgeon’s “A Covey of Flying Grouse” takes flight above a garage window en route from “The Secret Garden” to the woodland walk, where many international visitors enter for parties. “We are blessed to have been able to create this tranquil environment that we enjoy sharing with others from around the globe,” says the husband.

Some gardens, like the Circle Garden, were designed around a new piece of sculpture. When Foxborough’s Thompson saw Quinn’s sculpture “What Goes Around Comes Around,” he shook his head at yet another sculpture, but soon after he created three circular gardens centered on the sculpture and sited to form an axis through antique iron gates to knot gardens in the Courtyard Garden and Ching-ju’s “Mirror of my Mind.”

Each piece of sculpture in the 15 garden rooms looks as if it has always been there, a true sign of good placement. The sculptures do not hit the garden visitor in the face or scream for attention. They come like aha moments, as quiet, pleasant surprises that add another dimension to the rolling, planted landscape.

“Sometimes the plantings of existing gardens have to be changed to enhance the sculpture,” says the designated placer. The geometry of plant forms resonates with the two-dozen sculptures. Grasses often highlight sculpture and add texture. White blooming plants or those with variegated leaves also brighten spaces, like white caladiums that give horticultural light to Ching-ju’s graceful “A Thousand Emotions.”

“We are indebted to David and Andrew Thompson who have worked with us in close partnership to create these gardens over more than a decade,” says the husband.

“Our girls say ‘no more sculpture,’” adds their mother. But it is hard to imagine these collectors stopping. There’s always room to tuck one more on a brick wall by the pool or on a stone wall above the sunken, four-square garden. “They’re hard to resist, but we’re running out of room.” Unimaginable in this verdant gallery.

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