Page 35 - The Hunt - Summer 2019
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                  through the property are more likely to be used by the resident “garden overseer,” bulldog Ella. At this stage in his career, Culp mostly knows what works in his garden. His days of trial-and-error experi- mentation were spent creating a list of plants that could override some of the property’s obstacles— like the native black walnut trees that exude a natural plant-killing chemical.
The gardening area Culp calls “dry shade” is sheltered by four ancient spruces and a towering cedar tree—the kind of old-growth plantings that tend to get bulldozed and typically stand like sentinels guarding some old Chester County farmhouse. Here they are left alone as a testament to Culp’s respect to the historical character of
a landscape.
Depending on the time of year, each garden bed,
much like a polite guest, takes its turn showing off blooms against the backdrop of Culp’s home. Viewed from the back garden, the 1790s white- washed stone farmhouse is an understatement of simplicity. It’s also part of the working canvas that is the subject of Culp’s first book—a garden that considers both seasonal layers of plants and the landscape as a whole.
In the spring, Brandywine Cottage sits in
the middle distance between a hillside of blooming white dogwoods and an ephemeral bed of white tulips. By summer, the view is more about the intensity of greenery and tree canopies that form a circle of blue sky above the sunny perennial gardens. And there are more flowering plants that bloom into fall.
As Culp sees it, the main purpose of having so many layers of plants and garden “rooms” is to ensure that everything doesn’t peak at once but instead evolves throughout the year. Culp’s first book, 2012’s The Layered Garden: Design Lessons for Year-Round Beauty from Brandywine Cottage, is now in its fifth printing. Elegantly documented by photographer Rob Cardillo, it’s organized by chapters that include “signature plants through the seasons,” explaining more than the traditional succession planting approach.
“I like the challenge of seeing how much beauty and pleasure I can wring out of a space,” says Culp from his immaculate home, where nearly every aspect of the décor reflects his appreciation for artistry and handmade craftsmanship.
Our freewheeling conversation covers everything Culp’s interest in color theory to
Whether in shade or sun, every nook and cranny of David Culp’s land bears beautiful plants and flowers. “I like the challenge of seeing how much beauty and pleasure I can wring out of a space,” he says.
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