Garden Visit: Jade Hill


This past July the Garden Conservancy was hosting yet another fabulous Open Days in Dutchess County, NY. We picked, planned and plotted which gardens to visit and in what order – the program allows this flexibilty to see one, all or a few of your choosing, genius!

Halfway through our day my instincts kicked and told me to stop. We didn’t plan to see Jade Hill, the Amenia garden of Paul Arcario and Don Walker, partly because it has long been on the roster and there were a bunch of new gardens showing that day. But I’d never been, and this was quite possibly going to be my last area garden tour…on a whim we switched gears and headed over. And I’m so glad we did.


Flashy foliage from trees, shrubs and potted specimens


 Numerous pools, fountains and water features add a layer of motion and
sound to an already textural garden


Jade Hill is named for the steep and rocky hillside the garden is sited on -
making for fun exploration and exceptional views


Art mixed with the colorful plantings create a vivid visual experience…

DSC_0062…and a hint of whimsy makes it fun and personal (I love this guy!)


My lovely garden tour companion and HVGA active member, Kae,
and I actually lost each other a few times in the paths among the mature plantings


Backlit lotus leaves contrast perfectly with the purple beech and nearby pine


One of my favorite dry creek beds I’ve seen in a garden – bravo!
Photo also shows creative use of downed trees, as edging along path.


Home owner, Don Walker, greeted us enthusiastically when we arrived.
He focuses on the hardscape and structures in the garden – like this Asian inspired pavilion – while Paul is the plant collector.

Don’s heartfelt welcome might have won me over before we even stepped foot into the garden. But after visiting, Jade Hill instantly became not only my favorite garden seen that day but one of my favorites in the region. Be sure to check it out if on the Open Days schedule in 2016.

Garden description from the Garden Conservancy Open Days Directory:
Starting as a rocky hillside that was mostly lawn, Jade Hill has grown into a stroll garden designed to be a tapestry of texture and color. Favorite plants went in first: Japanese maples, conifers, and a bamboo grove. Innumerable wheelbarrows of compost and mulch (wheeled uphill!) helped create beds of shrubs and perennials; hand-dug pools were put in for goldfish and lotus. The main bed along the driveway is anchored by golden barberries and purple smoke trees (coppiced each year)—with roses, peonies, Siberian iris, phlox, and other perennials filling in—and backed by a ‘Purple Fountain’ weeping beech. Jade Hill borders the wetlands that were once Lake Amenia, and our property is on the site of what was intended to become a lakeside community consisting of dozens of small lots. Over the years we were able to acquire some of the adjacent parcels, which quickly became new garden rooms. One addition was the rose garden, another was a gold-themed garden, viewed from a cantilevered “Oriental” pavilion meant to show off carved wooden window panels purchased at a flea market years ago. The garden was featured in the September 2006 issue of Better Homes & Gardens and the July 2007 issue of Hudson Valley magazine.

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