The Wilds of Vermont

My amazing, gifted friend, Phyllis Odessey, is horticulture director for a New York City park. But her “park” is really an island, Randall’s Island, and she is in charge of garden-making on a scale most of us can’t imagine.

But on her own “plot” — a hundred acres in the wilds of Vermont — she gardens with an intimacy and artfulness that has left me breathless. She was a painter, a graphic designer, and a creative director before she brought her refined eye for color, rhythm, texture, light, and scale to horticulture.

There are sculptures and vignettes of her own in this garden along with the bold stonework of the famous Dan Snow. (Phyllis is married to the architectural photographer Peter Mauss, who has photographed Dan Snow’s work, a collaboration that has resulted in a couple of books.)

These poor photographs of mine are woefully inadequate, and I beg Phyllis’s pardon. Look at her site and her blog to get a much bigger idea of the scope of her talent and hard work — Her garden is on a hilltop. There are views to the east and west of the hills and mountains beyond.

Phyllis has cultivated herself. She is an embodiment of art. That’s what it takes to make a great garden — this deep cultivation of self, first.