“Outstanding American Gardens”: The Susan Burke Garden, Massachusetts

“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 second part to the three-part mini-series that we’re sharing a brief overview of — enjoy! 


The Susan Burke Garden in Nantucket, Massachusetts

For their Nantucket home, garden patrons and stewards Susan and Coleman Burke achieved an interesting balance: utilizing only those plants hardy enough to withstand the challenging coastal Massachusetts weather white creating a delicate English-inspired design.

The design of the Burke’s garden was influenced by Russell Page, the preeminent 20th century British landscape architect. Mrs. Burke, an avid gardener, initially met Page in Chile, where the two are said to have bonded over pisco sours, the traditional South American cocktail — their friendship only strengthened over the years.

The guiding influence of Page’s design philosophy is evident in Mrs. Burke’s whimsical seaside Nantucket garden, a colorful composition of flower-lined stone paths, archways and the unexpected — including a trio of frogs, delighting a seated mermaid with their music. When describing her evolving and eclectic garden design, Mrs. Burke said, “A good garden should always have a surprise.”


PHOTOS, top to bottom; by Stephen Or for Veranda.

1.  The main part of the Burkes’ garden is nestled in a stone-lined trench that’s protected from the sea just a few yards away. Native junipers create privacy and a strong backdrop for lavatera, butterfly bushes, poppies, roses and Russian sage.
2.  Moss and creeping plants thrive between flagstones.
3.  Grape-covered pergola and antique millstone table.
4.  Wooden tuteur along blooming path to the beach.

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