At Bedrock Gardens artwork leads you on a journey

November 18, 2021

In early October, as we road-tripped south from our leaf-peeping week in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, I used to be head-over-heels excited to revisit Bedrock Gardens, a private-transitioning-to-public backyard within the city of Lee.

I first visited Bedrock Gardens in 2014, when the house owners, Jill Nooney and Bob Munger, had been nonetheless managing their 30-year-old backyard on 20 acres of farmland on their very own, with seasonal assist from volunteers. Seven years later, they’ve transitioned their house backyard into an rising public backyard with common visiting hours, a car parking zone, entry kiosk, restrooms, and reward store. Jill and Bob nonetheless reside on-site and have personal house by their home, however by going public they hope to protect their outstanding backyard for future generations to take pleasure in. What a present to the group and their state.

What I like about Bedrock is that it’s a journey backyard, one which evokes humor and magic due to Jill’s found-object artwork (a lot of it made with previous farm implements) and Bob’s handcrafted constructions interspersed amongst inventive and mature plantings. The varied backyard areas convey moods of serenity, pleasure, and thriller. Sight traces on an epic scale draw the attention by means of the backyard, and pull you alongside to expertise every house. Exploring the backyard is a voyage of discovery and delight.

Gothic Arbor

The backyard’s entrance has modified since I final visited, moved away from the home. You enter the backyard these days beneath an acrobat arch (see prime photograph), which leads right into a towering wooden meant to “cleanse your spirit as you allow the world behind.” A Gothic arbor, planted with golden fastigiate beeches, frames a view of a bench in a single course, and within the different results in a pond.

Jill favors vertical sculptures or totems within the backyard, some out within the open, like these, and others tucked amongst vegetation. I consider these as solar totems.

Tea home

The map reveals a delegated route by means of the backyard, however there was a guided tour forward that I needed to keep away from as I took pictures, so I ended up strolling it in reverse. I do surprise how the backyard unfolds within the different course although, so if I ever return I’ll go that approach. Subsequent we got here to a tea home within the woods, which was chained off, tastefully, to forestall a more in-depth method.

Jill as soon as advised me that she and Bob typically take pleasure in sleeping out right here, and it appears to be like just like the mattress remains to be inside, so maybe this personal house is reserved for the house owners’ sole enjoyment.

A found-object sculpture close by has an Asian-inspired roof. I’m curious to know what the toothed rails and perforated center part come from.

An uphill path results in a sculpted Buddha pillar beneath a big halo suspended from the timber, seeming to drift overhead. The vitality of that halo makes for a hanging scene.


Rising from the woods, you come to Conetown, marked by a large, metal arch adorned with dangling metallic cones.

This pinetum comprises a set of 70 dwarf and customary conifers! That’s what you are able to do when you could have 20 acres to play with.


Simply because the backyard turns into sunny and open, a gazebo seems. Capped with vintage skylights and sheltering a number of chairs constituted of previous farm instruments, it gives a spot to take a seat and luxuriate in a small pond.

Another person is right here too, ready within the water to shock you.

Wiggle Waggle

Undulating between the pond and a spring home, a 200-foot rill referred to as the Wiggle Waggle introduces a way of playfulness and frivolity. The colourful Garish Backyard stretches alongside one aspect, and a Belgian fence of espaliered apple timber, backed by a tall display of arborvitae, runs alongside the opposite. Unexpectedly, a flock of speckled guinea hens appeared, darting throughout the Waggle towards us.

Unperturbed by our method, they gathered to drink from the rill, chattering at one another. I noticed Bob tending to some vegetation close by and struck up a dialog. We’d by no means met in individual, though I’d interviewed Jill for an article in Backyard Design as soon as. Bob advised me the guinea fowl are beloved pets who roam the backyard in the course of the day. Later I learn on the backyard’s Fb web page that every one however two of the birds had been killed by an unknown predator, possible a fox. I do know foxes should eat too, however I used to be sorry in regards to the guineas.


On a mild slope close by, lots of grasses make a stylized meadow. GrassAcre consists of pink (switchgrass), inexperienced (hakone grass), and blue (little bluestem) grasses, massed for a painterly impact as seen from a distance.

The guineas adopted us over.

In a central airplane of turf grass, a metal sculpture referred to as SyncoPeaks evokes distant mountains.

Close by, a naturalistic meadow surrounds a tree stump elevating a spherical art work.

I like this piece as a focus, and it echoes the round-topped undulating hedge of the Pate behind it.

A wider view, with the pond and CopTop gazebo.

The Pate

A wavy hedge of clipped privet referred to as the Pate has a niche that invitations you in.

Within the middle stand colorfully striped beehives.

Rock Backyard and the Touchdown

Again by the rill, a pair of horse-head sculptures body a broad stone stair main by means of a boulder-edged backyard. A big barn stands on the prime of the hill, and Jill and Bob’s home sits past that.

Alongside the ridge, a pergola supported by granite pillars gives an elevated view of GrassAcre and the encircling backyard.

Jill and Bob are gardening on a scale properly past what most of us can think about. I like the way in which they create massive moments like this in addition to intimate backyard rooms, plus vignettes of artwork and vegetation alongside paths connecting every thing.

Belgian fence

An extended view of the Belgian fence, with grasses and junipers carpeting a broad slope.

And the Wiggle Waggle making its snaky passage by means of the garden. I’ve seen pictures of this within the winter, with the serpentine line of the water slicing by means of mounds of white snow.

The Wave and arborvitae hedge

What’s on the opposite aspect of the arborvitae hedge, you may surprise? Really, one other massive second: the Wave, a refrain line of 26 of Jill’s metallic folks displayed on undulating painted posts.

Jill gave every of her quirky creatures persona and appeal.

The wave impact of the posts is properly framed by the darkish arborvitae display.

Another totemic sculpture up by the barn.

Barn Backyard

I am keen on this found-object fowl sculpture within the Barn Backyard. There are various of Jill’s sculptures I covet, however that is one in every of my favorites.

A tumble of flowering perennials jostle for daylight right here.

Bees had been having fun with the bounty.

Furry balls (Gomphocarpus physocarpus) all the time makes me smile.

A inventive peaked arbor leads into the backyard.

Parterre Backyard

Contrasting with the cottagey barn backyard, a proper parterre backyard results in personal house by the house owners’ home. A bit of porch railing on the trail barred the way in which in, so we stood beneath the yew arch and simply appeared.

It’s a sublime house, given just a little harlequin twist with a diamond sample of grey pavers amid squares of inexperienced and swooping red-brick edging.

Turning round, you see a double line of stone paving main the attention to the Swaleway woodland.

We headed that approach, stopping to admire one other solar totem…

…and blue metal tuteur smothered by a vine perched on prime like a Daniel Boone coonskin cap.

A tilted display of metallic reeds leads the attention to the spring home and Wiggle Waggle.

Funnel Gardens

And right here a surprising view unfolds, with timber in hues of emerald, yellow-green, and wine-red lining each side of a protracted garden. Shapes are contrasted too, from vertical spires to rounded canopies. The Funnel Gardens actually do funnel the attention to a distant upright boulder, the terminus of this lengthy axis. This is without doubt one of the most lovely views within the backyard.


Getting into the woods bordering the garden, you’re within the Swaleway, the place spring-flowering vegetation “brighten the mud season,” in keeping with the brochure. Stacked rock towers allude to wayfinding cairns on prime of New Hampshire’s Mount Washington.

Coloured glass prisms — deck prisms as soon as used on crusing ships — set on stakes make glassy bouquets that deliver mild into the shady backyard.

On the sunny aspect of the Funnel Gardens, one dagger-like sculpture frames a view of a distant arbor referred to as the Torii…

…in case you place your self simply so.

A whisk-headed, robotic Julia Little one makes me surprise if butter-colored flowers encompass her in summer season.

Torii at GrassAcre

Past GrassAcre, the Torii beckons.

However first we should discover the exuburant Garish Backyard, developing partially 2.

Up subsequent: Half 2 of my go to to art-infused Bedrock Gardens. For a glance again at colourful fall foliage within the White Mountains of NH, click on right here.

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