Beautiful and Bucolic…with a View

The ultimate New England backyard landscape.

My backyard landscape has evolved over the last 17 years. Whether viewed from my kitchen window, sitting at the ornamental fish pond, or strolling the mowed paths of the lawn, I want my yard to represent a love of shape, color, and whimsy. It’s not just about plants! Every season, aspects of my garden change for the better. Clearing stone walls, creating a meadow, replacing unsafe trees, and building a new walkway to the back door are improvements that enhance my experience living on this beautiful property more every year.

Coreopsis (Tickseed) comes to life in the fall.
Eupatorium formosanum
Common blue aster
Art in the garden.
Physostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant) with a happy pollinator.
A water feature for all…pollinators and people.
Beautiful even past its prime and going to seed.
An original New England stone wall sits at the back of the property – be on the lookout!
Beauty in fall’s morning mist.

Introducing Our New Designer

Hand-drawn garden design
A recent hand-drawn favorite.


Darylynn joined Dan’s design team last season after moving here from Manhattan where she recently traded fashion for flowers. She comes to Holmes Fine Gardens with a background in designing shoes and accessories. Designing gardens is a natural transition she’s just as passionate about.

As they say…once a creative, always a creative.

Her newest accessory? Nature!


Enjoy this fun Q&A to get to know a little bit

about Darylynn


What’s one interesting fact about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone? That my favorite movies are from the 1920s to 1940s and that I will stop whatever I’m doing if a Fred Astaire movie is on.


If you were a flower, what kind of flower would you be and why? The Calla Lily because it symbolizes gratitude.


If you had a choice between two superpowers, being invisible or flying, which would you choose and why? Flying because birds seem to be having a blast!


Last thing you read? The second edition of “Feel Free” magazine, founded by interior designer Leanne Ford.


What part of the day is your favorite & why? The crack of dawn to catch the sunrise. It’s a magical occurrence you can count on daily – pure beauty.


Favorite garden style? I am obsessed with topiary and meadows – British and French-style gardens are a big source of inspiration.


When you’re not working at HFG where can we find you? Hiking with my two loves, my husband Joseph and my fox terrier Fonzie.


Something, not many people know about you?” I collect bugs. The star of my collection is a dragonfly.


Finish this sentence, “I find garden design” … I find garden design fascinating.


What part of the garden design process do you enjoy most? I enjoy the whole process but if I had to pick just one aspect, it would be sketching the actual garden because that’s the moment the design starts to come to life.


Are you a country mouse or a city mouse? A city mouse masquerading as a country mouse.


Do you have a landscape architect muse? Yes, Geoffrey Jellicoe – he had a long-distinguished career. #LifeGoals

A Focal Point For All Seasons

Basic fire pit ring in place.

Basic firepit ring in place and ready for planting.

As part of the front yard renovation of this beautiful property in Newtown, the homeowners wanted to creatively hide the top of their well cover while adding interest and color. The house itself is perched high up on their land with a pastoral view that draws the eye right down to the top of the well, a bullseye of sorts, that needed a creative boost.

Firepit ring in place and ready for planting.

With a diameter of 60″ it initially proved challenging to find a container to plant in that would cover the well cap in its entirety. After searching local garden centers, getting creative with local artisans, and searching in-depth on Google, it was a firepit ring insert that turned out to be a cost-friendly option that worked well and just made sense.

Freshly planted container garden.

A unique array of plant material provides textural blooms with seasonal staying power.Once purchased and in place with the right foundation and soil mixture, we set out to a few local garden centers to search for a mix of perennials, annuals, and succulents that combined color, texture, and ease of maintenance along with the sun factor (full sun!). We also wanted to create an ever-changing, mini landscape that would produce new blooms and color variations with the seasons just like a full-scale landscape design.

In the end, it came together beautifully.

Finished container garden.


Planted container garden.

A bullseye worth admiring! From both the street and the house. 

“We knew we had a pretty rock well that could be an interesting focal point in the front yard but didn’t have the expertise to execute a plan. Dan’s team created a garden that continuously blooms, bringing varied interest and beauty throughout all seasons. We also recently renovated the exterior of our home and wanted a layered landscape that would both welcome visitors and create peaceful spaces.”

~ Homeowner, Jessyca


Tranquil Space – an Invitation to Presence

A natural stepping stone path.

The precise placement of stepping stones invites one to deliberately slow down one’s pace.

For 19 years, the land placed in our stewardship lay untouched and silent with respect to its purpose.  Aside from a few photo ops in the snow and the occasional round of catch or frisbee, the land remained a peripheral witness to our busy indoor lives — that is, until we met Dan, Owner/Founder/Designer – of Holmes Fine Gardens. With his magical, easeful manner, he brought a rising breath to our resting land and the movement began. As the first trees were felled and the first blades cut into the earth, I began to tune into the heartbeat of the land, and it started to divulge in a wordless language that it would someday soon become an extension of me, and me of it.

Over time, Dan became an integral part of this deep tuning in process, as he had a connection to the earth that I had not yet cultivated. He seemed unhurried and receptive, and I immediately trusted him to co-navigate the transformation of our property with aesthetic design guidance from our landscape architect, Emily Musall Fronckowiak, APA Certified Aesthetic Pruner. While Emily began designing our new walkway, deck, outdoor kitchen, koi pond, and zen garden around our want for visual serenity, Dan brought a diversity of life and extraordinary color to the property by planting an extensive, lush pollinator meadow, and dotting the land with his favorite natives. I remember the sharp pang of regret I felt upon realizing how little sustenance our land had offered the wildlife for nearly two decades, and I was thrilled to be creating new habitat. I didn’t recognize it at the time, but thinking about habitats was the catalyst I needed to unleash my desire to “invite”. 

The plant installation process.

Fast forward to 2020 – the transformation began to take shape.

I began to see the land, as a picturesque setting for our home, as well as a restorative outdoor living space for our family and guests; a place in which to drop from the head to the heart, as they say. Dan’s palpable respect for the native environment and its offerings of natural boulders, ferns and mosses, and refuge for wildlife heavily influenced many of my choices as I began tuning into the heart of the garden. The rising vision of a “contemplative garden” serendipitously brought us into collaboration with Japanese landscape architect, Takaya Kurimoto. Takaya listened keenly to the experiential objectives I sought to achieve and expertly translated them into a multi-themed garden plan, influenced by Japanese garden design and spatial concepts. Ultimately, I wanted the garden to be a space, like the pauses in poetry, where one could step out of time and meet themselves fully. ~ Anáil Moon

Enjoy this visual tour of Anáil’s property – a land where one can experience and enjoy the spirit of welcoming and healing.

Japanese cultivars amid natural stone in the garden.

A breathtaking fusion of rare Japanese cultivars and native New England flora coexist beautifully.

Mushrooms among moss

Brilliantly colored fungi thrive among the moss.

Zen garden with rake and special stones

The Zen Garden – a special place to exhale fully and experience the effortless ease of being.

Approaching the garden from the woodland.

“As I tuned into the heartbeat of the land, it began to divulge into a wordless language that would soon become an extension of me, and me of it.” ~ Anail Moon

A natural stone stream.

Plantings along the winding stream keep the energy of the land flowing reminding us that it is our very nature to be – in flow.

Perennial alongside a stream.

‘Astrantia major’, Masterwort – an unusual, starry-eyed edition. 

A monarch butterfly resting on a mossy stone.

A rare Monarch butterfly enjoying the mossy montage.

The koi pond and surrounding statues.

The koi pond provides a point of visual serenity within the landscape.

A budding tree with the Zen garden in the distance.

The budding Sweet Almond Tree (Prunus dulcis), a gift from Dan, draws the eye toward the Zen Garden in the distance.

The central section of the garden with stream and native plantings.

“Some would say that I was learning to follow the Tao – what became clear is that the garden would become an extension of my becoming.” ~ Anáil Moon

Succulents nestled into natural stone.

Fall-blooming succulents nestled amid natural stepping stones.

Hosta and grass with natural stone.

The experiences within the garden is textural and never-ending in both variety and scope. 

Perennials, moss, and natural stone.

Many captivating combinations lie at the heart of the Japanese Garden.

Native meadow setting, front of house.

The lush pollinator meadow is a highlight as you approach this magical property.

Natural pollinators that make up the heart of the meadow.

Coneflowers, ‘Schizachyrium scoparium’, little bluestem, and ‘Muhlenbergia capillaris’, pink muhly grass, heighten the level of texture in the native meadow. 

The family bunny.

Miel, enjoying everything his special home has to offer…lunch in tow.

One Fantastical Garden

For Susan McLaughlin, her wooded, lakeside house in Newtown, CT plays an influential role in her artistic vision as a magical realist painter. By providing her with an environment that comes alive with the sights and sounds of nature, she’s able to closely study as an explorer would by uncovering, recording, and rearranging the beauty of the natural world and the beauty of human beings.

This connection to nature comes from her horticultural interest manifested in the daily ritual of digging and pruning in her Connecticut garden. A daily ritual of physical immersion with the dirt and the worms of life contrasts with the otherworldly fantastical spaces she creates for her paintings. The paradoxical character of these two places imbues her paintings with an alluring mystery.

Enjoy this visual tour as we bring Susan’s property to life through images that depict the relationship between her paintings and gardens.
The alluring entrance to a beautiful garden setting.
Foxglove Cottage in full view.
A warm welcome.
The perfect spot for morning coffee.
Lady of the House
Taking center stage.
Hydrangeas and clematis in full bloom.
Reflective blooms.
A perfect head of flowers.
Untitled design (25)
Midnight Rose
Photography by: Kimberly Charles