Tucker House Garden (214 N Bragg Street, Warrenton, NC) is a wonderful example of landscape architect, Charles Gillette’s keen ability to integrate architecture and landscape architecture by responding to and complementing one with the other.
Mr. Gillette apprenticed with Warren Manning, one of the founders of the Society of Landscape Architects whose office was based in Boston in the early 1900’s. While under Warren Manning, Mr. Gillette worked on large estates, and was eventually sent to Richmond, Virginia to work on a Richmond College design by Manning. He established his reputation in Richmond and eventually opened his own office around 1919.
Tucker House Garden built in 1940 is listed in the Client Log from Charles Gillette’s office. This Client Log is referenced in his biography, “Genius in the Garden”, written by his close friend George C. Longest. Longest describes him in the following quote from his book “Charles Gillette established a standard of quality and professionalism … his influence on the Virginia landscape … established a regional style identified by an understated classicism and an attention to detail.”
Tucker House Garden exemplifies the classical influences and attention to detail characteristic of Gillette’s designs. Beginning with the main house atop a gently sloping site, the gardens effortlessly cascade down the slope creating terraces that begin with a large shady brick patio on the upper most terrace. Then, one moves to the next larger, sunny terrace where we find an inviting rose garden on one side of the main path and a large lawn panel opposite. The rose garden is formally situated with brick edging along the paths with elegant classical lines and proportions throughout the design.
The main path travels on a major axis from the back door of the main house through the garden to the front door of the Guest Cottage. It intersects with a minor path which is on axis with a workshop and a seat detail in the rose garden. These intersecting paths organize the space and act as the major structure of the garden.
Use of rich materials, the horizontal and vertical layout of the stone walls, and intricate paving patterns all contribute to Gillette’s artistic attention to every detail in the construction of the garden elements. Use of garden plants as architectural elements is seen mostly in the use of boxwoods and shade trees. These combine with the hardscape to further define the outdoor spaces.
Spaces nearer the house have the greatest amount of detail. Perhaps the most charming aspect of the garden which Gillette exquisitely details is a set of twin fountain pools flanking a minor path as you step down and enter the shady brick patio. This Patio is surrounded by garden plantings, and delineated by boxwoods. Each pool is punctuated at either end with a small wrought iron frog that makes the spout of the fountain.
Strategically placed large shades trees flank and define the edges of the garden. An old Pecan tree is found between the first and second terrace, and a Magnolia tree between the second and third terrace which is created by a gently curving stone wall at the foot of the Magnolia.
The garden is carefully thought out from the edges of the space that create a grand scale to the interior structures that further articulate and down to the delightful details found throughout. The composition allows for a diversity of use and provides a rich stage for living outdoors surrounded by natural beauty. A pleasure to experience…
[Author of this guest post is my good friend and truly talented landscape architect – Julieta T. Sherk RLA, ASLA, GD.
Thank you Julie.]
Here's the associated Tucker House post.