How to Add Gilded Age Glamour To Any Backyard
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How to Add Gilded Age Glamour To Any Backyard

The restoration of a grand New England garden offers lessons for growers who are eager to add ‘instant age’ to modern-day plots.

Thu, Aug 18, 2022 9:47amGrey Clock 3 min

WHEN WE BEGAN, it was basically an archaeological ruin,” landscape architect Douglas Jones recalled of the elegant Marblehead, Mass., garden that his client, Brian McCarthy, has dedicated two decades to reviving. In the late 1990s, when the McCarthys purchased the waterfront parcel, which included portions of a turn-of-the-century summer estate once owned by heiress and historical preservationist Louise du Pont Crowninshield, their focus was building a home for their growing family—not planting hedges and training roses. But after neighbours shared 1930s photos of the Italianate garden at its peak, the challenge of making a new version look as if it had been there for more than a century proved irresistible. “I wanted to embrace the history,” said Mr. McCarthy.

Guided by that mission, Mr. Jones, of the Boston firm LeBlanc Jones Landscape Architects, launched a “conjectural restoration,” informed by remnants of railings, walls and garden beds. Mr. McCarthy, an avid auction-goer, stalked period statuary. “At a certain point, we had to invent,” said Mr. Jones. “But we were always faithful to the spirit of the place.”

The result is a welcoming garden that looks as if it has always been there—and always will. Here, five strategies that can help homeowners add historical character to their own backyards, no blue-blood pedigree required.

1. Embrace Reclaimed Materials

Though brickwork walls were one of the original features of the garden when Mr. McCarthy hired Mr. Jones to take on the property, the structures were in various states of disrepair, ranging from bad to worse. The solution for an age-appropriate fix: hiring masons to rebuild and repair stairways, walls, niches and arches using a mix of original materials and reclaimed Chicago common bricks sourced to complement the old ones. “Afterward everything was sandblasted to give it a unified, weathered look,” Mr. Jones explained. A creeping blanket of English ivy also helps tie old and new together. “A masonry consultant would definitely tell you to pull off these vines,” he said. “But we love how they add a sense of age, so we’ve allowed them to envelop.”

2. Traffic in Traditional Motifs

For a garden that looks timeless, stick to designs that never go out of style. Topiaries and manicured hedges with well-defined edges are a classic motif in formal gardens and an ideal way to imbue otherwise bland spaces with structure and a sense of history. Here, Mr. Jones used an allée of pyramidal Japanese yews to create a linear transition between the rose garden and the looser, perennial plantings that abut the pool and greenhouse. “It’s a complete invention but in keeping with the old garden,” he explained. Feathery pink astilbe, added by gardener Rick Elder, brings a soft, organic note to the corridor, and in the distance, a 150-year-old bronze beech forms a majestic backdrop behind a sweet marble statue of a child.

3. Seek Out Antique Varietals

The rose garden was one of the most well-documented elements of the original plan, with copious photographs and remnants of the beds visible on the ground. But its restoration was also aided by serendipity: “Amazingly, we found a label for some old roses buried in the soil,” said Mr. Jones—info that was confirmed by an elderly gardener who had worked on the estate more than half a century before. True to the past, Mr. Jones used that varietal—Iceberg, a floribunda prized for cloudlike blossoms—for the perimeter of the garden, then filled in using fragrant newer cultivars from renowned British breeder David Austin Roses, such as Glamis Castle and Abraham Darby, in a pale palette of pink and white.

4. Splurge On Mature Plants

Don’t discount the power of a head start. To lend the grounds instant age, in among younger specimens Mr. Jones planted dozens of established shrubs and trees. Some of Mr. McCarthy’s favourites: the sprawling wisteria that cascades over the waterfront porch of the family’s newly built (but historically-accurate) Georgian home. They were decades old when purchased—”and they might be a hundred now,” said Mr. McCarthy. Trained and nurtured since, the vines drape to create a keyhole vista of Marblehead harbour. “These have really been a labour of love,” said Mr. Jones.

5. Drop in Pieces With Patina

Arranged everywhere throughout the garden, in niches and clearings, is the sculptural evidence of Mr. McCarthy’s keen collector’s eye. In a less grand garden the objects might look out of place, said Mr. Jones. “But they really work here.” Among the most striking pieces: figures in bronze and cast-iron that react with the elements to form a warm, coppery patina. “I love the way the colouring looks against the brick,” Mr. McCarthy said. “These aren’t the kind of things you’re going to go to Home Depot and see—you’ll never find another one,” he added. “Antiques give the garden the mystique it needs.”

Reprinted by permission of Mansion Global, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: August 17, 2022.


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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Luxury watch collectors showed ongoing strong demand for Patek Philippe, growing interest in modern watches and a preference for larger case sizes and leather straps at the June watch sales in New York, according to an analysis of the major auctions.

Independent and neo-vintage categories, meanwhile, experienced declines in total sales and average prices, said the report from  EveryWatch, a global online platform for watch information. Overall, the New York auctions achieved total sales of US$52.27 million, a 9.87% increase from the previous year, on the sale of 470 lots, reflecting a 37% increase in volume. Unsold rates ticked down a few points to 5.31%, according to the platform’s analysis.

EveryWatch gathered data from official auction results for sales held in New York from June 5 to 10 at Christie’s, Phillips, and Sotheby’s. Limited to watch sales exclusively, each auction’s data was reviewed and compiled for several categories, including total lots, sales and sold rates, highest prices achieved, performance against estimates, sales trends in case materials and sizes as well as dial colors, and more. The resulting analysis provides a detailed overview of market trends and performance.

The Charles Frodsham Pocket watch sold at Phillips for $433,400.

“We still see a strong thirst for rare, interesting, and exceptional watches, modern and vintage alike, despite a little slow down in the market overall,” says Paul Altieri, founder and CEO of the California-based pre-owned online watch dealer, in an email. “The results show that there is still a lot of money floating around out there in the economy looking for quality assets.”

Patek Philippe came out on top with more than US$17.68 million on the sale of 122 lots. It also claimed the top lot: Sylvester Stallone’s Patek Philippe GrandMaster Chime 6300G-010, still in the sealed factory packaging, which sold at Sotheby’s for US$5.4 million, much to the dismay of the brand’s president, Thierry Stern . The London-based industry news website WatchPro estimates the flip made the actor as much as US$2 million in just a few years.

At Christie’s, the top lot was a Richard Mille Limited Edition RM56-02 AO Tourbillon Sapphire
Richard Mille

“As we have seen before and again in the recent Sotheby’s sale, provenance can really drive prices higher than market value with regards to the Sylvester Stallone Panerai watches and his standard Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1a offered,” Altieri says.

Patek Philippe claimed half of the top 10 lots, while Rolex and Richard Mille claimed two each, and Philippe Dufour claimed the No. 3 slot with a 1999 Duality, which sold at Phillips for about US$2.1 million.

“In-line with EveryWatch’s observation of the market’s strong preference for strap watches, the top lot of our auction was a Philippe Dufour Duality,” says Paul Boutros, Phillips’ deputy chairman and head of watches, Americas, in an email. “The only known example with two dials and hand sets, and presented on a leather strap, it achieved a result of over US$2 million—well above its high estimate of US$1.6 million.”

In all, four watches surpassed the US$1 million mark, down from seven in 2023. At Christie’s, the top lot was a Richard Mille Limited Edition RM56-02 AO Tourbillon Sapphire, the most expensive watch sold at Christie’s in New York. That sale also saw a Richard Mille Limited Edition RM52-01 CA-FQ Tourbillon Skull Model go for US$1.26 million to an online buyer.

Rolex expert Altieri was surprised one of the brand’s timepieces did not crack the US$1 million threshold but notes that a rare Rolex Daytona 6239 in yellow gold with a “Paul Newman John Player Special” dial came close at US$952,500 in the Phillips sale.

The Crown did rank second in terms of brand clout, achieving sales of US$8.95 million with 110 lots. However, both Patek Philippe and Rolex experienced a sales decline by 8.55% and 2.46%, respectively. The independent brand Richard Mille, with US$6.71 million in sales, marked a 912% increase from the previous year with 15 lots, up from 5 lots in 2023.

The results underscored recent reports of prices falling on the secondary market for specific coveted models from Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Audemars Piguet. The summary points out that five top models produced high sales but with a fall in average prices.

The Rolex Daytona topped the list with 42 appearances, averaging US$132,053, a 41% average price decrease. Patek Philippe’s Nautilus, with two of the top five watches, made 26 appearances with an average price of US$111,198, a 26% average price decrease. Patek Philippe’s Perpetual Calendar followed with 23 appearances and a US$231,877 average price, signifying a fall of 43%, and Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak had 22 appearances and an average price of US$105,673, a 10% decrease. The Rolex Day Date is the only watch in the top five that tracks an increase in average price, which at US$72,459 clocked a 92% increase over last year.

In terms of categories, modern watches (2005 and newer) led the market with US$30 million in total sales from 226 lots, representing a 53.54% increase in sales and a 3.78% increase in average sales price over 2023. Vintage watches (pre-1985) logged a modest 6.22% increase in total sales and an 89.89% increase in total lots to 169.

However, the average price was down across vintage, independent, and neo-vintage (1990-2005) watches. Independent brands saw sales fall 24.10% to US$8.47 million and average prices falling 42.17%, while neo-vintage watches experienced the largest decline in sales and lots, with total sales falling 44.7% to US$8.25 million, and average sales price falling 35.73% to US$111,000.


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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