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Splendor in Septemberby Mary Jasch
Stepping into the courtyard of Tyvan Hill, one immediately becomes emersed in art, sculpture, flowering gardens and an imposing U-shaped mansion. To the right, a garden in full, colorful bloom surrounds a 7.5-foot sculpture, created explicitly to accentuate the house’s grandeur. The sculpture, constructed of 300 handcrafted bricks by James Tyler, and represented by Broadfoot and Broadfoot, is the head of Gabriella, proud and serene, rising from a circle of soft-rose chrysanthemums. This is the Jardin de Gabriella, designed by landscape designer Sean Murray of Nature’s Apprentice. Beds of black-eyed Susan, hydrangea, salvia, purple coneflower and rose-of-Sharon front a cobblestone wall. Have a seat on one of the three teak benches, admire the view and chill with Gabriella. After all, Gabriella and her Jardin won Second Place in the Landscape Competition.
This year, the traditional 19th Mansion in May is currently Splendor in September, a charity event produced by the Women’s Association for Morristown Medical Center. Tyvan Hill, mansion and grounds in New Vernon, New Jersey, is the 2020 Designer Showhouse for interior designers, artists, and landscape designers and architects of a delicious variety. They and the women of the Association are to be applauded for their acumen, resourcefulness, generosity, tenacity and spunk. From each Mansion in May event, they donate the proceeds to one of Morristown Medical Center’s departments, such as this year’s Gagnon Cardiovascular Institute Expansion. Tyvan Hill was built in 1928 in the French-Norman farmhouse style for John Wesley Castles. Jr., NYC attorney and investment banker,and his wife, Dorothea, award-winning photographer, author, writer and social activist.
Across the courtyard, a square area contains four small square beds, each representing a season. Seasons of Renewal is a simple design that furthers savoring the clean lines of its beauty. Each planting depicts colors of the landscape. Landscape designer Anthony Cortese, Split Rock Design, interprets them in a spiritual way: spring renewal in pastels, joyous summer in bold colors, fall’s change in orange, and winter’s contemplation in whites and lavenders.
Straight ahead, surprises galore! Before the steps of the grand entrance, a regal, life-size horse and hound reflect the lifestyle and passion of the Castles and later occupants: the hunt! Hunts were held at Tyvan Hill on the 115-acre property and surrounding open land. Tim Foerster of Foerster Landscape, Inc. borrowed horse and bridle and tied it to an original hitching post. Karen Waldron, owner of Classic Home & Garden, supplied the dog. Behind them, two 20-foot planters, built by Foerster and filled with 65 blooming Hydrangea ‘Limelight’ hug the steps to the entrance of the native fieldstone and brick mansion. Potted palms, crepe myrtles and flowering plants in blue and white jardinières along the veranda complete the front garden of Tyvan Hill, designed and planted by Foerster and Waldron.
Around back on the patio, a grand Farm-to-Table scheme is designed by Landscape Architects Lisa Mierop, Mierop Designs, and Frank Contey, Terra Graphics. For their artistry and eco-minded approach, the pair won the Tulip Award for Landscape, as selected by visitors who cast ballots for their favorite interior and landscape space at the end of their tours.
The themes of comfort and convenience begin with an enclosed veggie garden and chicken coop that supply fresh produce and protein for the “fully outfitted modular cooking island.” A tall metal sculpture with tongues of steel flashing blue, gold and silver, by blacksmith Charlie Spademan, stands in a bed of non-competing bishop’s weed. Truly an outdoor living space, an after-dinner lounge and cozy seats with fire pit, and the soft look of a muted grey table set for eight continue the luxury. Next to the mansion, six elegant ceramic pots hold simple plantings of small palms, caladium and New Zealand flax. The intent is to complement the house, but not overwhelm. They are exquisite.
Nearby, a garden of herbs is to die for. Landscape architects Tom Selaki and Stacilyn Feldman, Square Acre Studio, together with Dan Chomuk of Leaf + Line, built a raised bed garden of three planters. On uneven ground, they are of varying shapes and depths but, together, form a perfect square of Nature’s edible and medicinal fixes such as lavender, echinacea, sage, lamb’s ear and more, all tidy and neat in a row. Wonderful!
There’s more! Moving toward the side of the mansion and peeking through an opening in a stone wall, you can see Gabriella. But here inside the stone wall, a garden of French and Modernism plantings is tall and full of hot color. Jardin a la Francaise is the creation of M.Erbs Fine Gardens. Landscape designers Keith Wallock, Mark Peterson and Maria Clemente meld the formal French lines of hedges of arborvitae, fastigiate sweetgum, and Armstrong Gold red maples with a sculpture focal point, and the linear garden along the wall filled with tall purple salvia, lemony rudbeckia, banana, castor bean, dark red cockscomb with tiny exploding white firecrackers of blue gamma grass and a great tropical wooly morning glory vine with huge leaves. A boldly placed, densely planted, potted arrangement sits on its own and completes the fantasy.
And that’s not all! Check out the pool house. Hot and tropical, it’s an outdoor summer house. Designed by Tulip Award winning Interior Designers Michael Curren, Curren Design Assoc., and Richard Barr, Plumberry Designs, the spacious room Far Niente Pavilion (the art of doing nothing) affords relaxed living with space to cook, dine, hang out and take a dip in the pool. It was inspired by the town of Lerici on the cliffs over the Italian Riviera. Golden rudbeckia (no black eyes) in black iron urns and an arrangement of orange bromeliad and kalanchoe, red/gold croton and orange-berried cotoneaster greet visitors.
Splender in September/Mansion in May is open every day through October 4. Just two days left! The gardens and the interior rooms of the mansion, each with decor by a different designer, is an exciting and refreshing experience. Art abounds through the property: sculpture, paintings, photography and fabric design. Splender in September/Mansion in May and its creators are inspiring in so many ways. So pack up your troubles and visit. Don’t miss it! Hurry!
Mansion in May: www.mansioninmay.org
** All photos by Mary Jasch
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