“Outstanding American Gardens”: The Bunny Williams Garden, Connecticut

“Outstanding American Gardens:  A Celebration,” is the newest publication from The Garden Conservancy, celebrating their 25 years of garden stewardship and advocacy. Unite to Save the Frick was delighted to see not one, not two but three commissions included in the book with ties to the masterful landscape designer and architect Russell Page. This is the third and final part to the three-part mini-series that we’re sharing a brief overview of — enjoy! 


The Bunny Williams Garden in Falls Village, Connecticut

Bunny Williams, renowned interior decorator and author, has cultivated some of the Northeast’s most stunning works of garden art. In her book On Garden Style, the doyenne of design wrote:

Great design, wonderful plant material, and delightful ornament: A garden becomes a work of art when these three elements are at play.

This ideology is readily apparent in the design of her Connecticut garden’s, 15 acres of inspired plantings and unusual antiques and accents from her worldly travels — a 34-year labor of love.

Eric Ruquist, Bunny’s chief gardener, noted that when Bunny and her husband, John Roselli, purchased the property, the gardens had been long abandoned by previous owners. Mr. Ruquist stated that Bunny “didn’t really have a plan at first. She knew she liked a mix of the indoors and the outdoors, and she wanted the gardens reflect this.”

Possessing a very defined sense of space, Bunny conceived of six distinct garden “rooms”—the woodland garden, the parterre, the perennial garden, the sunken garden, the orchard, and the vegetable production garden.

Mr. Ruquist and Bunny have collaborated on a variety of garden upgrades, from crafting a man-made waterfall in the woodland garden to creating a “Little Italy” pathway of thyme plants and arbor vitae leading up to a Greek temple–style pool house. Their most recent project: the perennial garden, which Bunny first conceived of after visiting an English-style garden in France’s Normandy region, created by the late great landscape designer Russell Page. Once Bunny derived the overall design, she and Mr. Ruquist sat down for a series of conversations about color and texture. The resulting garden is a stunning and prolifically pink profusion of of thistles, spikes, and ball-shaped plants.

PHOTOS, top to bottom; photos 1-3 provided by Enchanted Gardens. Photos 4-6 are gardens by Russell Page.

1. A small fishpond is the centerpiece of the sunken perennial garden.
2. The guest house with its adjoining conservatory looks out over this formal parterre.
3. Wandering uphill through an apple orchard of mature trees brings you to a swimming pool with eighteenth-century French coping.
4-6. Some of Russell Page’s gardens that inspired the designs of gardens around the world.

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