Friday, May 13, 2016
What's in your garden?
It was a dreamy day. Four of us drove to Americus, Georgia, to visit the inimitable Furlow Gatewood, famous designer, New York antiques dealer, tastemaker and gardener. At 95, he is still witty and urbane and very active. We took a picnic, and he came out with a huge bag of cheese straws he'd made himself. Furlow insisted we spread our lunch at a large round table in the solarium of the main house, which was formerly his mother's barn (that's what he called it; I think it was actually a carriage house). It's the largest of the structures on the expansive property, which has been in his family for generations.
Marsha Powell from our Flower Guild team at church arranged the excursion. Her father is from Americus, and his brother was a childhood friend of Furlow's.
Hidden behind a curtain of trees, Furlow's collection of houses and cottages - all decorated in a style that can only be called genius - contains stunning antiques, some rustic, some more sophisticated and rare - gathered throughout the years. Interesting fabrics and slipcovers are everywhere. I asked him about a particular pillow, and he said he'd seen a dishtowel he liked, so he bought several pieces to cover the pillows. On another pair of chairs, he had turned the fabric inside out, because he liked the "wrong" side better.
I have his book, One Man's Folly, and it shows this magnificent compound and details of many of the rooms in the four decorated houses (another cottage is actually the chicken coop where Furlow gathers fresh eggs every day). Another elegant little building contains garden tools. Yet another outbuilding houses antiques that aren't being used at present.
Seeing all this in person on a cool spring day, the floor to ceiling windows open, and the fresh air drifting in, peacocks squawking and jumping about on the roof or sauntering among the gardens - it was almost otherworldly.
Furlow must have a hundred giant snowballs (Viburnum macrocephalum) planted in rows here and there. Below is a tree festooned with the white version of Lady Banks rose outside one of the cottages. I have more photographs to show in another post very, very soon.