One Nutley home has a hidden secret in the backyard: a world-class garden. On a quiet street in Nutley sits a renowned private garden that is open for the community to enjoy four times a year. Mountsier Garden is the lifelong effort of residents Simon Mountsier and Richard Hartlage. Read on for more about this hidden gem in Nutley.
Situated on 2.5 acres of property, this garden is part of The Garden Conservancy. Per the organization’s website, Mountsier is “a garden for all seasons that has been created and fine-tuned for more than two decades and now encompasses two acres. Owners Silas Montsier and Graeme Hardie have collaborated with noted landscape designer and friend Richard Hartlage, and the result is a feast for the eyes and for the senses. Principally a stroll garden, there are numerous focal points, small rooms, seating areas, private nooks, and impressive vistas.”
Silas Mountsier was born where his garden was planted, inside the beautiful teal house accented with classic antiques. He has lived there his whole life, enjoying and expanding the property throughout the some-odd ninety years of his life.
The Gardens Today
A visit starts as an ordinary walk up an asphalt driveway – at first, hardly inspiring. A Japanese pagoda sits alongside a tree, cellar doors appear as sculptures of iron, and a collection of planted pots display moderate pizzaz. A visitor may think, is that it? But as guests peek through a sunroom walkway and turn past a row of narrow hedges, they enter a wonderland. Don’t be fooled by the modest introduction, this garden is a step away from suburban Nutley and into a lush landscape that even Alice would not have resisted.
The first impression is the size. Layers of trees, shrubs, and plants lead the eye to the sky, while a vibrant grass lawn affords a deeper view into the garden. Brick and stone make up a hardscape that feels classic and European. Hostas and Japanese maples edge borders with playful texture. The Mountsier Gardens feels like an escape, a rabbit hole into another dimension where everything is calm, green, and effortless.
Wandering the paths will bring about all kinds of views. From intimate corridors of hedges to hydrangea covered arches,visitors may feel complete solitute or a glimpse of the property beyond. . There is art and water, often a combination of the two, everywhere. But there’s also a playfulness that reveals what all gardens are meant to be: joyful. With countless cushioned seat, loungers, and dining tables, visitors are meant to feel welcome to sit and relax, to enjoy the space.
Some of the highlights of the garden include:
- Hornbeams that are sculpted into perfect popsicle shapes.
- A lion statue that gazes back at you.
- Scandalous statues back by the guest house.
- A garden lookout tower where you can enjoy the solitude.
- A peaceful Buddha round for reflection.
- A little statue of a boy watching a fountain.
- Stagferns aplenty!
The Mountsier Garden is open next on June 3rd, and then again in September. It is the closest place to a garden paradise, and it’s right outside Montclair. Buy June 3rd tickets here.