Stunning New Release – On Walnut Hill: The Evolution of a Garden

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When A.C. and Penney Hubbard moved into their house in 1969, the garden was in rough shape, and the hills were mainly used for sledding. Fast forward 46 years, and their garden is now one of the most stunning private gardens in Maryland, and is listed on the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Gardens.

With the publication this month of On Walnut Hill: The Evolution of a Garden, local writer, Kathy Hudson and photographer, Roger Foley, have captured this garden in words and images.

An original Quercus palustris towers above a yellow Acer palmatmum ‘Sango Kaku.’ They embody the variety of autumn color among the deciduous trees on Walnut Hill.

I had a chance to catch up with Kathy shortly after she’d received the first copies and talked to her about the book… and lots of other things (not fit for publication!).

MF: What inspired you to write the book – I know you see and write about a lot of gardens for Baltimore Style magazine – but why Walnut Hill?

KH: I had worked with Penney Hubbard on an article about Walnut Hill that ran in Style in 2004, and both of us were so determined to have the plant names right – the Latin ones as well as the common ones. We had a multi-volume horticultural encyclopedia spread out on her floor to identify and name all of the plants correctly. That was the beginning.

I also admired the fact that the Hubbards had lived in the same house since 1969, raised their children, changed the house and property and learned a lot along the way. Their 1937 Colonial Revival house was transformed into a more European style house and so were the gardens. They went from a sledding hill to terraced gardens and courtyards on a central axis.

On the lawn, rare Disanthus cercidifolius (top) simultaneously shows multiple fall colors and resonates with the native, yellowing Cercis canadensis and Ilan Averbach’s 1992 stone In the Cradle of Civilization.

MF: Do you have a favorite part of the garden?

KH: There are so many garden rooms that surround the house, that it’s tough to choose just one. I guess I’d say the garden around the swimming pool. Nearby is some of A.C.’s conifer collection, now grown to 60 feet, that began with seedlings. Also near the pool are the former vegetable beds, originally dug by A.C. and planted by the family, now filled with dahlias and a cutting garden. The stacked stone walls of the swimming pool have beautiful entwined Japanese cutleaf maples cascading over the sides. You can see how difficult it is for me to choose!

MF: Tell me about the images in the book…

KH: Roger Foley, the nationally known landscape photographer, came to take the beautiful images throughout the year. There are snow scenes, images of the garden just after a summer storm, close-ups of the leaves in the autumn, and beautiful shots of the most tender shoots of spring. Penney dug through decades of photographs and files, recreating the garden from the earliest years.


We worked hard to identify each of the plants shown, and then indexed them by both their Latin and common names, so this isn’t just a book of pretty pictures. Dr. John Fitzpatrick was the horticultural editor, and he made sure that everything was “just so”.

MF: You said that the photography was done over a year – were you writing during that time?

KH: Actually, it took two years to research, write, and revise the book. Then a few months were spent on the final edits and writing the photo captions. My editor, Laura Wexler, encouraged me to write short essays, sort of prose poems, to introduce each of Roger’s elegant seasonal photo sections.

MF: Are you doing a PR tour?

KH: Yes, but this fall mainly in Baltimore. On Thursday, October 22, the book launch is at the Vollmer Center at Cylburn Arboretum. Click here for more information (reservations are necessary). I will be leading a garden tour and then lunch at Cylburn on Wednesday, October 28th through the Kaleidoscope program at Roland Park Country School. (Reservations: 410-323-5500, ext. 3091) Check our Facebook page, On Walnut Hill, for more information about additional readings and signings.

MF: Thanks so much, Kathy! It was fun to hear about this amazing garden, here in our own back yard, so to speak.

KH: My pleasure. I hope to see everyone at one of the book-signings.

If you would like to order a copy of this gorgeous book, click here.




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