33 & 41 Williams Avenue, Westerly RI

2017 Westerly Garden Tour: Gardens Near the Sea

33 & 41 Williams Avenue, Westerly RI

Westerly, Rhode Island 02891, United States

Created By: The Jonnycake Center of Westerly, Inc.



Eugenie “Danie” Rowe Bradford (1918-2014) was a child of Weekapaug families who came to the Inn in the early 1900s, put down roots, and always managed to return to the Pond from Tennessee and Ohio, New York City and East Hampton.

A gardener, potter and artist, Danie inspired her daughter Julia to become a passionate vegetable gardener, most recently at the Weekapaug Community Garden, and to conserve the open space downhill of the house they call 41 Rocks. By donating a conservation easement to the Weekapaug Foundation for Conservation, her mother’s gardens and views of the Pond beyond are conserved. The gardens were first planted in the 1970s when Danie’s son Robert began to slowly expand on the trails down to the Pond with chainsaw and mattock, clearing invasive non-native plants and tangles of vines from the land below the rock ledge.

In 1997 the family purchased, and in 2003 completely renovated and enlarged, the home at 41 Williams, joining the two gardens together for the use of the multigenerational extended family. Robert’s wife Virginia, a conservation landscape designer and horticulturalist, found a mentor and collaborator in her mother-in-law. Virginia designed the landscape for 41 Rocks, including new driveway loop and adequate car and bike parking, decks and terraces where one could read or sun alone, grill or dine together, and the outdoor shower and hot tub area. The peaceful greens and chartreuses of the ‘Dragon’s Eye’ pine, chamaecyparis, ferns and hosta, framed in the breezeway and screened by native clethra and rhododendrons, make the functional area a relaxing and peaceful space.

Boulders for retaining walls were unearthed in creating the driveway loop; Virginia and Danie worked with stonemason and excavators to direct their placement as retaining walls and features in the landscape. Strong geometry for bluestone and gravel terraces and walks blend the orderly architecture of the home with the landscape.

Imperfections in stone and the asymmetrical, odd curve of a branch are accentuated with companion plantings, which are more focused on form, texture, ecological role for birds and plant communities than color.

Throughout the landscape, native shade trees, amelanchier (shad), an heirloom apple, beach plums, native blueberries, specimen Japanese maples and conifers from Danie’s collection lend character to plantings of hydrangeas, perennials and ferns, and provide cover for birds. A favorite Southern native oxydendron (sourwood) displays chains of flowers to bees in summer and brilliant red foliage in autumn. Bold blooms and textural foliage May through October of oakleaf hydrangea, tree form hydrangea paniculata, bottlebrush buckeye, amsonia, baptisia, purple coneflower, phlox, JoePye weed and Montauk daisies are for cutting and enjoying.

Armloads of blooms, ferns, hydrangea heads, and black-eyed Susans, help kids dream and design beautiful mermaids in the annual sand sculpture contest on Fenway Beach.

This point of interest is part of the tour: 2017 Westerly Garden Tour: Gardens Near the Sea


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