For more than 30 years, esteemed decorator Bunny Williams has been tending to her gardens at her country estate in Falls Village, CT, with her husband, John Rosselli. And she shows no signs of stopping. “I am not able to work in my garden every day, but I am constantly thinking about it,” she tells us. For the renowned tastemaker, it’s a labor of love that yields endless joy and bountiful rewards all through the year—whether it’s planning the color scheme for her parterre in the dead of winter, deadheading, weeding, reviving plants in the greenhouse, or simply snipping lilacs and sunflowers in spring and summer.
But believe it or not, Bunny did not always have her green thumb. She learned it. “I am a self-educated gardener, as most of us are,” she says, though she grew up with a mother who loved to garden, grew all kinds of vegetables, and had a cutting garden for flowers. “In the 30-some years since I made my first little garden, it has been a constant source of pleasure to curl up with garden books, to visit public gardens around the world, to seek out-of-the-way private gardens, and to learn from the people who create and maintain both great and small ones,” she says. It’s that perennial curiosity that has fueled her lush, lavish gardens, which she’s beautifully documented in her book An Affair with a House. Come take a stroll with us in her wonderful and whimsical gardens and cull some of Bunny’s best-kept garden secrets and inspirations.
#1: Start with Symmetry in Mind
Bunny’s gardens are laid out in the same manner as her impeccable interiors, with scale, balance, and a sense of intimacy. For the garden just beyond the main house, it meant leaning into classical symmetry—matching boxwood terraces and towering hedges, pairs of ornamental sculptures—to create the feeling of an enveloping outdoor room. “The koi pond in the center surrounded by a flagstaff terrace creates the sense of an intimate garden room,” explains Bunny. “Ornaments can bring your eye up from the ground to help you experience a space better and give focus to a garden. Two ornaments placed for classical symmetry will always formalize a setting. Great design, wonderful plant material, and delightful ornaments: A garden becomes a work of art when these three elements are at play.”
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