Renowned architect, Dinyar Wadia, and his wife, Gool, have created a lush and romantic garden in their New Canaan home. Look no further for the ultimate landscape inspiration.
Dinyar Wadia is recognized worldwide first and foremost as a celebrated architect, but he is equally passionate about gardening and landscapes. One of his greatest achievements is the 10 acres of stunning grounds he has created with his wife, Gool, over the last 20 years. Named Gitanjali, after an epic Indian poem, the gardens have the effortless beauty of a traditional English cottage-style garden. Wandering the stunning property is like falling down a rabbit hole with surprise, beauty and whimsy at every turn. From the Tea House there is beauty and joy around every corner. Wadia talks to us about the magical gardens of Gitanjali and shares the lessons he learned in bringing this extraordinary property back to life.
Connect Your House and Garden
As a classical architect, I’ve spent a lot of time traveling the world and visiting homes and gardens that inspire me. On one of my trips, I visited Wisley in the UK. It has hundreds of acres of gardens with beautiful borders. I hadn’t seen borders given so much attention in the US. I ended up finding my first gardener, Alistair Gunn, through Wisley, and he designed my gardens in the English cottage style. I have always felt that a home is never complete without the landscaping and that landscaping needs to look as good, if not better, from the inside looking out. My living room looks out onto our Secret Garden in the back and to the courtyard, which is a stepped garden, in the front. The views from the kitchen are of the summer border and a kitchen garden, which is planted with clematis and annuals.
Have a Vision
When we bought the property, the grass was 4 to 5 feet tall, and the trees were infested with vines. In fact, Hutchinson Tree Care took one and a half years (two men, full time) to get rid of the vines. To give you an idea of the state of the house, the moss on the roof was all that was keeping the roof from leaking. We bought the property because of the amount of land and because of the significant trees—American beech, larch, white pines and magnolias. The anchor was a blue Atlantic cedar. There were also four shagbark hickory trees in the front and back. Though overgrown, the landscaping—especially the trees—was so mature and the house, though it needed work, nestled in among the walls and trees. We knew we’d keep the house but renovate extensively. To do anything else would be to disturb the trees and affect the whole layout of the property.
Keep it Blooming Year Round
Beginning in the springtime, my wife and I walk the property and visit the early blooming trees [Witch Hazel] and the snowdrops. Next comes the forsythia, and it goes from there. My property is designed to always have something in bloom.
People have a romantic idea, like we did, that they can manage their own landscape. We maintained our own when we had a half acre. But now that we have more than 10 acres, we need and have great help. My advice to anyone is to be judicious about what you pick to plant. There’s no such thing as a maintenance-free garden.
Go slow. A garden develops over time. Design so there’s always something in bloom, and so there’s always something to look out at. Again, it has to look good on the outside, and even better from the inside.
Photography by Jonathan Walker