The Grande Dame of Garden Design shares her favorite things


Photo:


Andy Sewell for the WSJ. Magazine


Photo:


Andy Sewell for the WSJ. Magazine

“My passion for collecting trees began in 1990. To date, I have planted over 7,000 trees at Gresgarth Hall [in Lancashire, England]. The pinus lambertiana pine cone in the middle of the table is native to Oregon and California; it is indicative of my passion for growing trees from seeds. The enlarged black seed painting above was done by Brigid Edwards, who I think along with Rory McEwen is one of the greatest botanical painters of all time. The Piranesi print from the Teatro di Marcello [in Rome], which is an original from the 1700s, shows where I was raised. I lived at the top with a view of the temple of Vesta. When you go to Rome in April, there are these beautiful indica azaleas, which you can see here in the pot on the ground. On the left side of the table is a collection of books by Vita Sackville-West. When I arrived in England around 1967, the first garden I saw was his. I always liked the way she wrote about plants, as if they were friends. Below is a Rotring A3 drawing board, which has a master plan of a garden I made for Trudie [Styler] and Sting. This is my favorite because it is light and I can take it with me. My husband, Mark, designed the clamp on the front. He copied it from that of the great gardener Princess Greta Sturdza. She had this beautiful garden in Normandy. My two daughters are artists. One of them, Dominique Lacloche, made the bronze sculpture of a gunnera leaf, in the center of the table, as a Christmas present for me. My other daughter, Patricia L. Boyd, works in sculpture and video. The Showa gloves on the right are the only ones I can garden with. They are very light and easy to wear. At the top are the Felco secateurs. The wonderful thing is that if your blade gets dull you can send it back and they put a new one on for you. The Uzbek cushion at the bottom right is one of my favorites. I love the landscapes of these very wild countries which also have these wonderful materials, patterns and artefacts. I bought the Chinese lantern either in Kunming or Beijing 16 years ago. It is made of very thin metal with this lovely pattern, and inside there is some kind of gauze, so the light of a candle is soft. I fell in love with the beauty of the country and the energy of its people. I have traveled to China four times after that. I often go for a walk in the mountains to look at the trees. -As said to Tobias Gray

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