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Garden Visit: A Couple’s Lush and Romantic Sanctuary in the Catskills

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Garden Visit: A Couple’s Lush and Romantic Sanctuary in the Catskills

September 2, 2020

Years ago, I was an editor at Martha Stewart Living when Todd Carr was hired as a senior garden editor. I remember asking a colleague what she knew about him, and she responded, “He’s, like, a real gardener”—as opposed to the rest of us, presumably, who could write or edit gardening stories but were generally more comfortable playing with words than playing in the dirt.

Todd, a garden designer and certified Master Gardener, proved to be a great asset, producing some beautiful stories for the magazine. When he left the editorial world, I wasn’t surprised. Print journalism was just too two-dimensional for his ideas-generating energy; he needed the real world as a creative outlet.

I’ve been following his next venture, a botanical shop, on Instagram since it opened in 2017, and what he and his partner, Carter Harrington, have been able to create is just breathtaking. Short for “horticulture and pottery,” Hort and Pott, located in Oak Hill, New York, carries foraged wreaths, botanical arrangements, cement leaves, and sculpted containers, all dreamed up, designed, and made by the couple.

Just as charming is their own house and garden, “a short walk down the creek-lined road” from their store, says Todd. The two decided to move to the Catskills permanently after they vacationed there and “fell in love with the area and the rich abundance of plant life and gardening possibilities.”

Here’s what Todd and Carter’s garden looks like at the height of summer, that is, in full bloom.

Photography by Todd Carr, courtesy of Hort and Pott.

When their little farmhouse came on the market in , they found the perfect reason to escape New York City. Back then, &#8
Above: When their little farmhouse came on the market in 2016, they found the perfect reason to escape New York City. Back then, “the front yard was a bumpy crab grass patch with some errant shrubs and an old overgrown forsythia which we decided to keep and prune back into a nice shape,” says Carter. (See Lawn Begone: 7 Ideas for Front Garden Landscapes.)
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Above: “We wanted to create a sense of envelopment when we’re on the porch, our own little jungle that we get to enjoy,” shares Carter.
The large leaves of a climbing calabash (Lagenaria siceraria) vine help enshroud the porch. &#8
Above: The large leaves of a climbing calabash (Lagenaria siceraria) vine help enshroud the porch. “The process [of designing the garden] came quite organically,” says Todd. “We frequently sat on the the porch and thought about how to best envelop the space and create a dramatic scene which we could enjoy daily. The plantings came in stages as we’d find certain plants we loved along the journey.”
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Above: “We began by deciding on the structure and ‘bones’ of the garden. First was re-stacking the small stone wall to provide the first layer, and then all the previous shrubs and ‘lawn grass’ were removed so that we could lay down the fabric paths to define the planting areas. Pea stone was added and then we started the process of importing a variety of plants,” explains Carter. (See Hardscaping 101: Pea Gravel.)
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Above: “The tub is sometimes used for taking a quick dip on a hot day. When it’s time to refresh the tub, we siphon the old water back into the gardens to give the plants a drink,” says Carter.
The house is painted in a custom color. &#8
Above: The house is painted in a custom color. “It’s close to Positive Red by Sherwin Williams; we had it altered slightly to create a rich tone that we find bold and exciting year round,” says Todd.
Todd is also a ceramic artist. His hand-cast concrete leaves (like the one pictured, lower right) are sold at Hort and Pott.
Above: Todd is also a ceramic artist. His hand-cast concrete leaves (like the one pictured, lower right) are sold at Hort and Pott.
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Above: “The pedestal with bird bath is a newer idea we’re exploring. We’re experimenting with larger-scale objects that create focal points and celebrate the natural elements in the garden,” says Todd.
Above: The garden incorporates a few different varieties of daylilies. (See Gardening 101: Daylily.)
The silvery-white ball-shaped flowers of Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium) pop against tall grasses. (See 5 Favorites: Garden-Friendly Thistles.)
Above: The silvery-white ball-shaped flowers of Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium) pop against tall grasses. (See 5 Favorites: Garden-Friendly Thistles.)
Ladylike Nicotiana &#8
Above: Ladylike Nicotiana ‘Baby Bella’ blooms. “The scale of the plants in a smaller garden means keeping an eye on maintenance, so that smaller plantings don’t get crowded out and that flowers trying to reach for the sun get staked properly and not lost in the mix,” says Carter.
The couple are fans of the stone paths as they allow them to walk through the garden without getting muddy. (See Low-Cost Luxe: 9 Pea Gravel Patio Ideas to Steal.)  They made the black chairs themselves as prototypes for a possible outdoor furniture collection.
Above: The couple are fans of the stone paths as they allow them to walk through the garden without getting muddy. (See Low-Cost Luxe: 9 Pea Gravel Patio Ideas to Steal.)  They made the black chairs themselves as prototypes for a possible outdoor furniture collection.

For more upstate New York gardens we love, see:

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