When my husband and I were building our home at Gainesway Farm, I knew from the start that I wanted to have a large garden. And not only for the beauty or practicality of it, but to have a special green space to share with our children. Growing up I was an ardent enthusiast of English gardens, with their classic lines and use of herbaceous plants that were more than just ornamental. I wanted to watch my kids run through the paths on sunny spring mornings or pick vegetables and fruits together on a balmy summer evenings. Moreover, I wanted to teach them the value and pride that comes from growing your own food.
The space for my garden is located beneath a terraced lawn that faces the back of the house. When I envisioned my ideal design, functionality was just as important to me as aesthetics — not an easy task for any designer. Luckily I knew of the perfect woman to make my dreams a reality: Rosemary Verey, the fiery English designer who shot to landscape icon status in the 1980s with her wonderful books The Classic Garden and The Garden in Winter.
Ms. Verey caught my eye because of her love for using native and heirloom plants. Her hallmark was mixing varieties like an indigenous apple tree with a clipping she had personally garnered from Monet’s garden in Giverny, France. I also admired her bold use of color; she famously incorporated vibrant spring blooms into her designs. And most interestingly, for her unique love for yellows — a color most designers shy away from — that can be seen on display in her Laburnum Walk at Barnsley House.
She also had a magic way of making a variety of greens and whites look just as stunning as a field full of wildflowers. She mixed in texture and height as key components rather than turning to more conventional summer florals. After she designed gardens for celebrities like Elton John and royalty like Prince Charles, I wasn’t sure if she’d want to take on a Thoroughbred Farm in Kentucky — but she tackled the task with an energy I never expected! She fully encapsulated my dream with Kentucky trees in the grove, a cold-frame greenhouse for my winter green thumb and geometric pathways that I love enjoying year round. She really inspired us to continue her vision throughout the property — we were the first Thoroughbred farm to be given arboretum status — and we strive to preserve endemic landscape right here in the Bluegrass.
The Garden at Gainesway Farm
I am so honored to have this treasure in my backyard; it’s a true working garden and one that my children did in fact grow up lovingly tending on summer evenings. Every time I walk through and smell the lavender, pick fruit from the trees or read a book on one of the benches nestled in the pathways, I think of Ms. Verey. The last project she completed was my garden at Gainesway — her finale in a sense — and I’m so grateful to be able to share it with you today.
I hope my garden inspires you to get outside this summer and start making a space of your own. I wish you a garden that you can share with your children and fully enjoy — not only in appearance — but when you bake a pie with fruit from your trees or share a head of lettuce with your neighbor when you have overflow. Gardens truly enliven the soul!