From the June/July 2011 Issue:

Green Peace

    Writer: Elizabeth Eckstein | Photographer: Patricia Burke | Pond Designer: Joe Lingelback | Landscape Designer: Paul Warner |

Tranquil gardens built around historic Linden Pond raise a Rumson landscape to its highest form

Article Photo
enlarge | Two fountains and five aerators keep the water moving and algae at manageable levels in a pond with a growing population of minnows, sunnies and bass (catch and release-able). No chemicals are added, only engineered bacteria to better affect the ponds downstream. Around the water grow lindens, white pines, a red-leafed maple, crepe myrtle, variegated grasses, groundcovers and a who’s who of annuals and perennials.
The rambling ranch-style contemporary home on the property in Rumson was an appealing part of the sale. But it was the view through the picture windows along the back of the house that sealed the deal: a large pond, part of a seven-pond waterway to the nearby Shrewsbury River, known at least 300 years ago as Linden Pond for the surrounding trees. It was love at first sight, and from the moment of move-in, buyers Bonnie Watt and her husband set about to preserve it.

All these years later, Watt still takes a daily walk through the tranquil gardens she started by herself on a hit-or-miss, sun-or-shade basis. Today, she is assisted by independent landscape designer Paul Warner of Oceanport and Joe Lingelback of Aquatic Designs in Forked River; together, they have created an environment — an ecosystem, really — that is beautiful to the point of being soul-renewing with the pond enhanced and engineered to reward visitors, as it did for the 2010 Two Rivers Garden Tour, far into the future. (This year’s tour of different gardens, benefitting the Jacqueline M. Wilentz Comprehensive Breast Center at Monmouth Medical Center, will be held on June 4-5;

The bluestone path around the pond starts at the back of the house, where a beech shades a large deck. Multiple layers, textures and shades of green draw the eyes and feet toward further exploration, past a stone bench (inspired by a year the homeowners lived in Japan) that over­looks the pond. Most plantings are different — including a dark green cypress — but lamb’s ear, sedum, ivy, roses and rhododendrons repeat.

A magnificent viburnum overhangs the spillway on the downstream end of the pond, where debris would build to a catastrophic level if it weren’t removed regularly by hard labor. The sweet little bridge over the spillway continues the gardens’ Japanese feel, and a stone planter along the path holds hens-and-chicks and sedum. Nearby, a cutting of prickly pear cactus has grown into a display with year-round appeal.

Views like this one — with red-leafed maple, fountains and bushy Knock Out® roses — fill the privately published book My Garden by homeowner Bonnie Watt, who traveled to Africa many times with her husband for photo safaris.

If there is a color scheme in the garden, Watt reports, it springs from her love of pinks and purples, as evidenced by the alliums, catnip and other plants growing pond-side, a fine foreground to the lindens, white pines and weeping cherry across the pond. Where there is no full sun, she installed Japanese lanterns and concrete statues with an Asian flair as well as a pair of boxwood bunny topiaries (not seen in photo).

Long-stemmed Queen Elizabeth roses are among the plants crowding the banks of the tree-shaded pond. Found along the path are hydrangea, phlox, impatiens, dwarf tulips, daffodils, bluebells, daylilies and roses. An octagon-shaped gazebo stands on the far side.

Elizabeth Eckstein, a writer, editor and regular contributor to Design NJ, writes from her home in Irving, Texas.


SOURCES: design (with the homeowner), execution and maintenance, Paul Warner of Oceanport; pond fountains, aerators, maintenance, Joe Lingelback of Aquatic Designs in Forked River.

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