Tour a Breathtaking Garden That's Rooted in History
The preservation of the gardens at Meadowburn Farm, in northwestern New Jersey, gives new life to the legacy of beloved writer Helena Rutherfurd Ely.
Created in 1914, the evergreen garden was the last area Ely planted at Meadowburn.
The Coster-Gerard family embellished the space with garden ornaments, including the pool’s fountain, as seen today.
In the Pink
“There is no flower in the garden more beautiful, more easily cultivated or giving so much bloom as the phlox. I could certainly never have a garden without it,” wrote Ely in A Woman’s Hardy Garden. Teal-Sullivan transplanted Ely’s beloved pink phlox from the formal garden to the picking bed, combining it with Ely favorites such as an old-fashioned fragrant petunia in white, hot pink, and lavender.
One Woman’s Vision
Terra-cotta pots are stacked and ready for planting.
Foxgloves grow by the greenhouse.
A sphinx-like relief is one of the several decorative features in the evergreen garden.
The pool garden was completed around 1905 and is framed by hemlock hedges and arborvitae.
Ely’s first book, A Woman’s Hardy Garden, was a best seller and was printed 16 times; she wrote two subsequent books, including The Practical Flower Garden, a copy of which is shown here, signed to her “faithful friend and gardener,” Albert Furman.
‘Helena Rutherfurd Ely’ dahlias can reach 10 inches in diameter and grow on sturdy purple stems.
An opening in the stone wall leads to the evergreen garden.
Teal-Sullivan plants the picking garden with varieties she thinks Ely would have used: “Ely was an experimenter,” she notes, “so part of my philosophy when gardening is to emulate her and give myself some flexibility by trying new things.”
Down the Garden Path
In the formal garden, Ely planted wisteria along the rustic pergola, which was constructed from cedar wood found on the working farm at the end of the path. “Ely was a real ‘dirt gardener,’” says Teal-Sullivan. Through her books, Ely encouraged women to take an active role in the garden. “Patience and perseverance are traits necessary to the gardener. One must not be discouraged, but determined to succeed,” she wrote in A Woman’s Hardy Garden.
1. ‘Jane Cowl’—the only previously identified cultivar, featuring peach petals tinged with gold.
2. The cactus dahlia ‘Meadowburn Albert Furman,’ a prolific bloomer.
3. The antique peony-flowered ‘Meadowburn Danny Bea,’ magenta with streaks of maroon.
4. ‘Meadowburn Byba Vincenza,’ with its bobbing magenta form.
5. ‘Meadowburn Clara Helen,’ with fuchsia-and-white blooms.
6. ‘Meadowburn Old Tweet,’ which can reach nine feet.
7. The decorative yellow-and-bronze ‘Helena Rutherfurd Ely.’