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Revival Effort

This Westport garden is flourishing again thanks to a design dream team that gave new life to an old estate.

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One would think it would be intimidating to design the two-and-a-half acres that surround the English-style stone cottage, designed in 1925 by local architect Walter Bradnee Kirby, that sits atop a gentle rise on Westport’s Old Hill. Add to that the fact that the Tudor Revival, with its elegant chimneys, sturdy stone walls, and rolling landscape constitute the heart of what was once the eighty-acre redoubt of an Englishman determined to establish his manor in the new world. He called it Broadview. And then Route 33 ran through it and broke it into smaller parcels.

The occupants of the house, who lucked out and acquired one of those parcels twelve years ago, that being twelve of the twenty years they’ve lived in the area, were relatively unfazed, however. After all, they had spent two years renovating the house with meticulous attention to detail—reclaimed red-and-black ceramic roof tiles, cautious expansions and additions to period windows to admit more light into the interior—under the guidance of Mount Kisco architect Ira Grandberg and Salt Lake City-based interior designer Anne-Marie Barton. It was during this period that they took leave of the premises.

So, following the renovation of the house, and the finalization of the hardscape—including the perfecting of a long and curving gravel drive that seduces driver and passenger alike with generous views of the house from all its most flattering angles—they were ready to address the soft stuff. Principal among those line items was to address the loss of several tall, old trees which had perished due to lightning strikes. After a few false starts, they hired their dream team. It starred themselves, and key players Grandberg and landscape designers Jim Gerrity and Matt Almy of Oliver Landscape Design in Fairfield.

Among the objectives says the owner, were to provide screens from the neighbors, to close off a driveway shared with a neighbor on the garage end of the house, and to install deer-resistant plants. In other words, they wanted to achieve the effect of being alone in the world. “We wanted the landscape to appear endless, without borders,” says Gerrity.

Endless is an appropriate description for the number of outdoor venues in which residents and guests alike can observe or recreate in a variety of ways. In the circular gravel drive out front, in a ring of boxwoods there sits an urn filled with flowers and greens according to the season. It is given center stage before a façade that is both understated and authentically representative of an earlier era. English ivy crawls the walls; low boxwood hedges skirt the front wall; and myrtle provides verdant ground cover.