Meanwhile, the Murphys tidied up the property in Lakeville, preserving the land’s connections with its agricultural roots. The barns, silo, and surrounding fields that serve as a common denominator between the nursery and home remained intact, while the nursery sprouted up in the shadow of the property’s agricultural past. Gradually and thoughtfully (although every move is open to tweaking for a landscape designer), Judy began to weave her design aesthetic into the land. Back when cherry-picking prime plants for her own garden was not an option for a couple starting a new business, Judy saved damaged and unsold leftovers at the end of the season. All those beautifully imperfect rescued trees and shrubs recovered to eventually compose a scene with just the right ratio of simplicity and sophistication.
The first full-fledged garden (beyond a vegetable bed and road screening) was nothing more than a fenced area beside the house where the Murphy’s children could safely play. When they outgrew the space, Judy removed a length of pickets, and it became a white garden with dwarf white crabapples marching down the beds underplanted with a perky parade of white-edged hostas, white tulips, Leucojum, and white pansies followed by poppies, baptisia, irises, peonies, lilies, daisies, and asters as the season progresses. That monochromatic exploration was the beginning of the garden’s expansion and evolution.
Judy continued to experiment with landscape design ideas and pursued whimsies that might be a tad too funky for clients. Her garden now moves from red borders to purple beds, and woodland walks lead to sun-drenched vistas. “This is a very New England
aesthetic,” Judy says. Honoring the simplicity of the place, she unleashed her awareness of up-and-coming design principles harvested from visiting gardens throughout the world. The garden is an intimate laboratory where she can preview plants, concepts, and combinations.“I don’t see these gardens as being deeply serious,” she comments. “They don’t need to be perfect because the rural context is not perfect. They are playful and personal statements.”