Sunday, December 14, 2008

Private Garden Goes Public

Imagine opening your garden to the public six months of the year; never knowing when someone unknown will be walking through your backyard - dawn to dusk. It takes a special homeowner to be comfortable with strangers arriving unannounced, inspecting every inch of your landscape. I know of one such garden in Massachusetts.

The Cotton-Arbo retum is a privately owned garden with an open invitation to visit from May through October. This garden was created and is hosted by generous gardening duo and homeowners, Mindy and Dudley. They took an untamed space and design beautiful gardens with a natural woodland feel. And while you might assume an 18 year old garden is complete, the owners are always giving it a fresh look as they continually recreate their views.

Imagine meandering from one garden room to another, and another, drawn down generously planted paths and opening gate after gate to explore. The Cotton-Arbo retum is a garden with strong bones creating contrast and texture; planted with numerous Japanese maples, unusual variegated shrubs and trees, and a large collection of conifers. These bones are combined with mass plantings of foliage plants accented with colorful perennials here and there like throw pillows on a coach. Additional focal points include five water features and unusual garden art and structures.

I made my first visit to the Cotton-Arbo retum on a July day. The early morning light made for great photography. I would highly recommend a visit if you live in New England or are visiting the area. It will invigorate your gardening spirit!


  1. Wow... I haven’t had the opportunity to visit Cotton Arboretum but your photos and description is the nicest I have seen. Have you shared this post t with Mindy? I am certain she would be thrilled, I wonder what the “bones” look like in winter? I would love to see some of your same shots at different times of year.

  2. Thank you for the feedback kt. I sent Mindy an email right after I posted because I so excited to share my new blog and photos with her. I would love to photograph her garden after a snow fall. I'm sure it looks great this time of year. I'm planning a winter "bones" post as soon as I have the photos for a couple of area gardens.


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