Text by Tovah Martin
Soon New Hampshire’s Monadnock Region will disappear under a blanket of white. But for the first gentle snow of the season, Juniper Hill Farm is etched in the definition it deserves.
When their feet hit the ground in the morning, Joe Valentine and Paula Hunter are unable to resist the magnetic draw of their 18th-century farmstead. They pull up their boots and venture out to beat paths and toss grain for their Rhode Island Reds or open the paddock for their Oberhasli goats. When Joe and Paula purchased the 30-acre property in 2000, their vision was to fuse a garden and farm into one thoughtfully blended statement. Since then, many winters came and went before they achieved the ornamental and vegetable gardens that are now meaningfully silhouetted against the snowy farm.
Their winter tale began the day they noticed that the potager fence was askew. Somehow, Joe and Paula missed that detail when they lined it up with the existing pool. “We just assumed that the pool was plumb with the house,” they explained. So Paula’s newly installed kitchen garden appeared seriously off-kilter with the house. “And we are straight-line people,” asserts Joe. Something had to be done, so they called in Gordon Hayward—friend, landscape architect, and fellow fan of the straightedge. Hedges were the solution. And that was the beginning of the evergreens that render Juniper Hill a particularly poignant vision after the snow falls.
One hedge led to another. Not only did the partitions block the cockeyed geometry, but the divisions created defined garden areas, laying a foundation for beautifully structured gardens. Next, charming gates, local New Hampshire granite, and garden accents were incorporated. In summer, the statuary and stone warmly intermingle with the lush greenery, flowering blossoms, and vegetable produce. In winter, these structural accents, outlined in a blanket of snow, lend a stately ambience to the grounds.
Joe has finessed the scene so that silky white flat surfaces play against textural highlights. “Snow is the sugar coating,” Paula enthuses. “I can’t wait to get outside to see how it glistens on the fences and crystallizes on the boughs.”
On the morning after a gentle snowfall, Paula and Joe are both eager to rush out into the chill air. Although winter weather is notoriously fickle in New Hampshire, one thing is certain at Juniper Hill Farm—there will be tracks in the snow before long.