Washington Gardens: Louis and Kate Marshall’s Mosman Park home features a secret garden
Long before I started writing this column, I developed the habit of wandering the streets in search of beautiful gardens to look at.
These were long, intermittent walks, during which I was only vaguely aware of where I was going, with the result that I found many wonderful gardens and promptly forgot where they were.
Now that I regularly write about beautiful gardens, my forgetfulness has become a huge source of annoyance!
The Louis and Kate Marshall Garden was one of my long forgotten gardens and I had been trying to find it again for the better part of a year.
Once I started writing about Washington, D.C.’s parks, I knew their parks had to be included.
However, I avoided rediscovery for months, until two weeks ago, a fortuitous turn down a small, unknown street led me to my leafy quarry.
“The big Chinese elm tree out front was here when we arrived,” said Lewis as I stepped over the threshold of this wonderful cottage garden.
Bordered by a white picket fence, the front bed overflows with spring blooms – bright blue delphiniums, pale pink and violet ageratum, larkspurs, sage, daisies, wormwood, roses and mandevilla fill the beds, while under towering Chinese elms, oyster plants with blooms on long white spears Elephant leaves over winding brick paths.
The garden was created by a landscaping company.
The brief was low maintenance; “They gave us some basic plants – rock lilies – but little by little I took things out and put other things in,” Lewis smiles.
“If they had not given me the greatness of Paradise, I would not have built upon it.”
Lewis’s love of gardening seems to have caught him a little by surprise. “I come from a family of gardeners – my grandfather was a great gardener, but I was never a gardener until 11 years ago when we renovated the house,” he says.
Now, having just returned from a trip to the Chelsea Flower Show in the UK, my passion for plants has clearly taken hold.
The backyard consists of two “rooms” – a dappled, leafy courtyard, shaded by grape vines, with pelargoniums tumbled from salvaged beds, and a secret garden in the back, with potted blueberries, parsley, fuchsias, flowering sage, perennial basil, and a carpet of flowers. Dichondra, and on one wall, a beautiful native climber with purple bell-shaped flowers that Lewis told me is called a wonja vine.
Saving treasures are hidden everywhere.
There’s a birdcage filled with devil’s ivy, a pair of shoes planted with succulents, and a wire bust covered in lush climbers.
“As you go through life, you only pick up things that inspire you,” Lewis says.
This is the same ethos that Louis and Kate followed throughout their garden – a gradual evolution of beauty, shaped by many hands along the way.
“Gardeners evolve, don’t they? “You owe it to the people who came before you,” says Louis as, under the leafy canopy of grapes, Kate hands me a freshly baked cake and a cup of tea.
(Tags for translation)Lifestyle