Garden Spotlight

Italy and Princeton Meet on Round Hill Road

Photographs by ChiChi Ubiña

IMG_6122How did you come to Greenwich?

We met in the early seventies and we were married soon thereafter. We enjoyed life in New York City as we pursued our respective careers in teaching and corporate finance. The birth of our son motivated a move to Long Island, and corporate life subsequently took us to Princeton. Just a few miles from the university we found a terrific hilltop home with 16 acres overlooking the Hopewell Valley and adjoining hundreds of acres of conservation land. In contrast to our former suburban life, the combination of a young son and a property encompassing rolling acres, stream and forest led us all to a more outdoor oriented lifestyle.

In the late nineties, family considerations brought us to Greenwich where we had many relatives and friends. We looked mostly in mid-country because of its many lovely neighborhoods and its access to both downtown Greenwich and New York City. We found a great property on Round Hill Road. A new house had been constructed on one of the road’s rare open building lots, but was largely unfinished and void of landscaping by the builder and the initial owners. The house offered a terrific chef’s kitchen — which was a major consideration given our Italian background — and ample space for accommodating family and entertaining friends. The outdoor space was a blank palette to work with, which was quite appealing as well.

Where did you get the inspiration for your landscaping?IMG_6107

Over the years we’ve had the opportunity to travel extensively and to spend considerable time abroad, particularly in France and Italy. The many
magnificent places we stayed at or visited, combined with the outdoor focused lifestyle we had come to enjoy in Princeton, were the major influences in developing our new landscape in Greenwich.

One reason that the home appealed to us was that the property drops off more than 30 feet from the house elevation on Round Hill Road to a stream at its lower end. This change in elevation allowed us to create what we envisioned as a series of outdoor rooms.

What is one of your favorite outdoor features?

IMG_6099The patio level now includes two rows of Zelkova trees that merge together 30 feet into the sky to form a dense, leafy “rooftop”, shading and cooling our outdoor “living room” and dining space. Here we enjoy quiet breakfasts together and long, conversation-filled gatherings. The lawn adjoining the patio, bordered by a semi-circular boxwood hedge, is the scene of various pre- and post-meal competitions including petanque, badminton and croquet.

Describe how the pool has become a focal point.

The pool level is wide open to sunshine throughout the day. Tall trees, mature shrubs and hill garden plantings on three sides of the pool terrace create an expansive, yet very private and peaceful enclosure for enjoying good weather from spring through autumn. The eastern side of the pool overlooks and overflows down to the formal gardens below, which adds to the tranquil feeling.

At the formal garden level, the plantings, secret places and wide open play area offer something for everyone. This tends to be the scene of formal games and hide-and-seek, contemplation, and conversation. The clatter of splashing water from the pool’s waterfall adds a special dimension to time spent in this part of the garden.