Plantsville Pines is a Garden Masterpiece

The intricate details and the sumptuous setting are simply stunning.
stone path in landscape design

Photography by Kindra Clineff

Move over Versailles, step aside Biltmore Estate and Longwood Gardens, because you have serious competition. Fact is, Plantsville Pines can compare favorably with the swankest gardens here and abroad. But the amazing aspect of this Connecticut opus is not only the splendor of the plantings, but even more impressive is the reality that this garden is achieved by nonprofessionals and primarily populated by plants grown from seeds and cuttings.

All the work and the entire vision is the brilliance of the owner. Although George Anthony Jones has never been abroad, Jones spent many winters vicariously visiting landscapes throughout the world. That’s how formal parterres landed on his wish list when he first moved to Plantsville in 2001 to build a house on three acres.

Former partner Dean Del Giudice helped develop the landscape as it evolved through a series of smart moves. For example, before excavating equipment left the property after digging the house foundation, the machinery operators were asked to add 300 holes in the garden. Those conveniently accomplished cavities were then filled with trees to surround, define and shelter the future garden.

Between spates working on the house, Jones began a border that received plants brought from his former garden. Meanwhile, he sowed seeds and propagated cuttings for future spaces. When the time came to realize his dream of a parterre, he coaxed 400 tiny boxwood starters into shape. That was the easy part.

Dexterity with getting all things agricultural done could be traced to his mother, Violet Jones—a former florist who grew her own crops with George by her side. She now helps him meticulously maintain Plantsville Pines.

For a family wedding, the parterre received an additional terrace spilling with tender succulents cascading from urns. After the ceremony had come and gone, he finessed that space into a Mediterranean motif. After accomplishing that little achievement, his current deep dive focuses on creating a spherical garden with a sitting wall holding a gallery of truly inspired potted creations.

California gardens can often achieve this sort of ambiance, but you rarely find anything comparable on the East Coast due to a growing season that cannot support the tender succulents to make it happen. Jones’ little secret to sustaining succulents in New England is a basement light system plus a sunroom to host the non-hardy inventory during winter.

parterre with boxwood

Photography by Kindra Clineff

Basically, wherever grass dwells, Jones can think of something a whole lot more creative to fill that space. And wherever he plants, gazebos, pergolas, fountains and other focal points give further depth and personality. Again, his carpentry skills come in handy. But he is also genius with retrofitting found objects to reflect the right sense of swank to create the mood.

As for the art installation–worthy containers, Jones loosely follows the spiller, filler, thriller formula. But the color palette and textural interplay is so carefully composed that it all knits together. Every container is a masterpiece, or it is reworked. And then it is woven into a backdrop of sheer agricultural opulence. He patiently hunts just the right vine or tree to fit the niche. And if the perfect plant is not readily available, he finds something right and roots or sprouts it. At Plantsville Pines, divide and conquer is a way of life.

The print version of this article appears with the headline: Personal Masterpiece.
Subscribe to C&G