The Queen of Landscapes

Elizabeth Gardens stands as a monument to indigenous plants and regal design.

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The keyhole gate serves as a portal into another world. Duncan spices up his property by combining a variety of hardscaping materials, as well as diverse and abundant flora. The cherry on top is a flash of the unexpected, as in the sculpted bronzes of iguanas that serve as whimsical sentries to a water feature.

His outdoor spaces range from rustic—the slightly perilous footbridge over a stream—to formal, as in the stand of Grecian urns on pedestals. Around each bend in the path is a new delight for the eye. Witness a key-hole gate built from brick and stone, a pergola ensconced in greenery, a 14-foot waterfall gushing from an old quarry and a forest of salvaged architectural columns.

Duncan uses structures to entice visitors into the different areas of the garden. “Why not blend wood and brick and statuary in one landscape?” Duncan asks. “Why not mix moss with rocks and shrubbery?”

He gilds the lily, literally, in a small pond by adding a vintage trumpet that shoots fountains of water through its bell. A large cast-iron urn has been repurposed as a fountain in a nearby pond, where stone slabs form a bench. The sole ornamentation at another watering hole is an enormous snake carved from a fallen tree. The serpent appears poised to take a drink.

Water features—both natural and man-made—are illuminated with underwater uplights that make the surface shimmer. Wired with low-voltage lighting, the leafy canopies of trees look like damask rolled out against the night sky.

One outdoor room is designated for the couple’s collection of Japanese maples, which display both gracefully sculpted branches and foliage that ranges from green to burgundy. One cultivar, Acer palmatum or Sango Kaku, shows red stems in winter.

“I look out the window in my house and I want to go outside,” Duncan says. “I am drawn into the outdoor rooms.”

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