The designer of the Oldfields gardens, Percival Gallagher, worked for the Olmsted Brothers firm based in Brookline, Massachusetts. This famous firm is responsible for some of the most iconic built landscapes in North America, including Central Park in New York City, the Seattle Park System, and Balboa Park in San Diego.
A common thread among most Olmsted Firm designs is the juxtaposition of formal and informal spaces. This Allée is the backbone of Oldfields—the heart of the estate. Surrounded on either side by sweeping shade trees, this long vista of grass appears uninterrupted because of a simple trick of the eye and clever construction. A road, set at a slightly lower elevation than the lawn, runs right through the middle of it, but you would never know when looking across from either end.
In spring, this central feature has a meandering river of bulbs running through it and the open garden space behind the large fountain provides the grandest view of the house on the property year-round.
Adjacent to the Allée, the Border Gardens were planted as an informal foil to a structured space. At the time of their creation in 1922, small evergreen trees were planted to create private spaces along its pathways.
In the century since, those small trees have become towering features that cast shade over the Border Gardens, sometimes letting beams of light filter through. The site has gone from hot, full sun to a much cooler woodland feel. Newfields’ gardeners have maintained the original design intention to create intimate nooks for contemplation or quiet conversation, but the plant palette has had to change significantly over the years. Today these garden spaces feature mostly shade plantings focused on texture, structure, and pops of color sprinkled throughout.