Friday, March 2, 2012

Nancy McCabe: The Garden Designer's Own Garden

Vintage rubard forcers of terra-cotta
can also be used to protect other tender plants in the Spring.

Many outside the Northwest Corner of Connecticut as well as the adjacent Massachusetts and New York state may not be familiar with the work of garden designer, Nancy McCabe, but she has been the creative factor behind some of the most outstanding gardens in that area for over thirty years.  She is great friends with near-neighbor Bunny Williams, whose garden was featured here, and an influence of each can be seen in the gardens of both of them.
Nancy McCabe with her sons,
Sievert, then 5, and Wesley, 8.

When The Devoted Classicist first visited the Lakeville area, snow covered the ground all winter.  Although this can be a shock to a Southerner, the blanket of snow provided protection against damaging winds.  Global Warming has changed this, however, and now there are shrubs, especially, that are no longer suitable for the climate of the area.
The plan of Nancy McCable's garden in Litchfield County, Connecticut.
Nancy McCabe's garden has continued to develop over time, of course, but these photos (uncredited) from the June, 1989, issue of House Beautiful magazine, also date from a time when this writer was visiting the garden while working on a number of projects in the area.

A view of the left-hand side of the sunken garden.
The right-hand side of the sunken garden.
The new greenhouse was constructed in the traditional manner of vintage panes of glass.
This is the muntinless method of glazing, often mistakeningly called the mullionless method.
A collection of glass cloches line the potting shelf
and small pots and vintage nozzles line the narrow shelves flanking the door.

Nancy is known for her extensive use of planted containers.
Garden tools in the shed.
Nancy had been gardening as a hobby since she was ten years old and came to be noticed when she planted the area outside her husband Mike's bookstore in Salisbury, Connecticut, (now closed).  At the time, interior designer John Saladino had just purchased the handsome but neglected 20 acre estate in Norfolk, known as Robin Hill, and he asked for her help in creating new gardens;  when it was published, calls began coming in from others to enlist her help.  In addition, Saladino and Bunny Williams have recommended her for commissions. 

This and other private gardens in Litchfield County are sometimes open to the public to benefit The Garden Conservancy.  At present, the list for the 2012 participating gardens is still being put together, but watch the Open Days Program website for the announcement for sites nationwide.


  1. Great post. What a beautiful garden. I have been on one of those garden tours in Litchfield county. We saw some seriously amazing gardens, ending with the gardens at the Glebe House.

  2. TDM, thank you for commenting. Garden tours are a great way to see incredible properties that are otherwise private.

  3. I still have the article on her. I have always loved her work. I live in North Texas, but still know of her. I had always suspected that Bunny Williams was conected to her some how because of the garden style and there love for a rare clock ,sunflower in gilded bronze that has been photographed in both of there homes. Now if I could just find me one! Thank's for the great blog, Jed.

  4. Awesome garden designs, fabulous idea to design garden like this. Appreciate the great information about Garden Designers London
    many thanks...

  5. Nice designs. Gardening is one of my hobbies. I just love plants an nature.


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