For the last twenty-three years Richard Hartlage has worked with Silas Mountsier and Graeme Hardie on their garden in Nutley, New Jersey. "Our collaboration and friendship grew through a chance meeting with Graeme in Raleigh, North Carolina. The outcome is the most favorite in my portfolio. The original property has expanded from one-half acre to over two acres during the last two decades, as Silas and Graeme purchased adjacent parcels. The garden evolved through collaboration, with not an ill-considered decision; sometimes with disagreement, sometimes embraced immediately, but always with consensus. The garden has deep personal meaning for the three of us and represents the history of a friendship built in physical space. For visitors, the emotional content is palpable with every detail and vista. Though a strolling garden at its heart, the garden offers many places to sit and rest the eye and contemplate the crucible of a visitor's life and the vast collection of figurative and modern art. The garden is bold in its layout and unfolds through a progression of spaces, each more beautiful than the last. The late Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx's painterly approach to the use of plants was a huge influence on me. You will see both common and rare plants used in dynamic and expressive ways. One of my favorite elements is the galvanized, steel viewing platform embedded in a hornbeam hedge. This overlook provides a private place to survey the entire property. A semi-circular berm planted in 10,000 bamboo grasses in four leaf colors is animated and looks like a caterpillar or dragon emerging from the sea when the wind sweeps across it. Terraces for large and small gatherings provide respite and places to restore the soul throughout the garden. After two decades the Mountsier/Hardie garden is the place that I relish returning to on each visit. It is a hallmark of my own values: bringing strong design and built form together with great planting and the highest standards of garden maintenance to make an exceptional place. The garden has received countless accolades over the years; it is published regularly in books, magazines and newspapers. Mountsier has been called, 'the most important private garden in New Jersey.' At its core, it is a place that is loved and lived in. There are countless other features to catalog but they are incidental because this garden was built in a modern style of bold lines, large and small spaces, dramatic and quiet views, rare and common plants, and traditional and modern sculptures. The garden is simply a paradise on earth that is born out of a twenty-three year deep friendship. We hope you will come share the garden with us and support the Garden Conservancy."
Directions: From the Lincoln Tunnel or Exit 16, from I-95/New Jersey Turnpike, go west on Route 3. From Garden State Parkway, go east on Route 3. From both directions, go to Main Avenue/Nutley/Passaic exit. At end of exit ramp, turn left and go through two traffic lights (three lights if coming from west). After this light, go straight ahead. Rutgers Place is fourth street on left. Come up Rutgers Place to top of hill; when road flattens, #205 is on right.
Open Days 2016: April 9; September 10.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission to this garden is $7. Don't forget to buy discounted admission tickets in advance. They never expire and can be used at most Open Days to make garden visiting easier.
- This venue allows photography
- This venue is handicap-accessible