The Bridle Path garden in the Tarrytown neighborhood was my favorite on Gardens on Tour 2010 because it had the best of both worlds: a naturalistic garden for sun and shade in the front, with a charming council-ring style seating area tucked out of sight of the street; and a more formal back garden with gorgeous limestone walls, clean-lined water features, and a sunken gravel courtyard accessible from the home’s interior through French doors and numerous windows.
Huge American agaves (pictured at top), softened by larkspur, and other screening plants greet you curbside but obscure the main garden above from view. On the right side of the property, a path and this inviting stair of COR-TEN steel and decomposed granite leads up a short slope into the heart of the front garden.
Looking ahead you see the home. The owner, Christy Ten Eyck, is also the landscape architect who designed this garden. According to the tour brochure, the front yard used to be an expanse of lawn bisected by a large asphalt driveway. A year ago, the driveway was removed, the sloping lot terraced to harvest rainwater, and the entire front yard replanted with natives and even—surprise!—a vegetable garden.
Looking back toward the street, you see a young garden of yuccas, grasses, and silver ponyfoot. You can also see garden-blogging pals Diana, Daphne, and Robin admiring something along the curb.
Agave and silver ponyfoot (with a little dollar weed mixed in)
On the left side of the front garden, a small sitting area opens up, screened on three sides by small trees and grasses. It’s a charming spot. One of the owners is sitting there with his dog, and he told me that the stone for the table came from Indonesia, a gift to his wife from someone there, and they finally found a use for it in this table. An agave is growing in the small planting pocket in the middle.
To the right of the seating area, a good-sized vegetable garden occupies a sunny spot. It was a surprise to see it in the middle of the native-plant garden, particularly given the rather tony Tarrytown address, but it was also delightful. And considering the formal layout and spare design sensibility of the back garden, it really works better to put the veggies out front.
Excavation of a sunken patio in the back garden provided rock used to terrace the front garden’s slope, which helps reduce runoff and keeps rainwater on-site.
View from the small seating area, looking across the front garden to the walled back garden.
A closer look. Mexican feathergrass, undulating at the slightest breeze, is contained in a raised bed edged with COR-TEN steel. Fig ivy cloaks the wall that gives privacy to the back garden.
The feathergrass is mixed with agaves, and the whole is mulched with gravel.
Poured-concrete pavers make a clean-lined walk to the front door.
Another view of the entry, with more COR-TEN edging on the raised bed and front stoop.
I don’t often have this much restraint myself, but I admire those who do.
The shady raised bed at the front entry contains squid agave, purple oxalis, and a chartreuse sedum.
Mexican feathergrass makes a lovely backdrop to the squid agaves.
A vignette at the entry. The table is a massive limestone block.
You enter the rear garden through a pair of steel gates set in a fig-ivy-cloaked walled courtyard.
I just love this space, the style of the seating, the outdoor fireplace with COR-TEN steel-and-gravel hearth.
Austinite Berthold Haas constructed the wall fountain with limestone trough. Click on the link for a look at his own stunning garden, Stone Palms, which I saw on the Open Days tour in October 2008.
Looking left, an shady rectangle of lawn under a live oak is precisely delineated by gravel paths. That’s the architect and homeowner, Christy Ten Eyck, on the left.
The view back toward the fireplace
Along the back portion of the house another vegetable garden is edged in COR-TEN steel.
And in another courtyard formed by two wings of the house, a trough-style, negative-edge water feature adds contemporary style. Bamboo muhly grasses and possumhaw hollies soften the space.
I was so tempted to pull up a chair and just sit and enjoy it for a while.
An arched doorway in the wall, draped with wisteria and framed by oakleaf hydrangeas. This part of the garden was off-limits—probably a storage area.
This garden is masterful in framing views and creating inviting garden rooms out of a large space.
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