Gillette Gardens and Christie’s Fine Gardening
From the 1920’s through the 1960’s the name Charles F. Gillette was synonymous with the best in landscape design in Virginia and the upper South. His unique design and landscapes are part of Richmond’s garden heritage.
Many of his private gardens have disappeared due to lack of funding or cost of maintenance; the housing need for “more house and less garden”; the scavenges of time with decaying wood, mortar, insects and disease; and the increase of the deer population which has decimated finer blooming plants and bulbs.
Under the apprenticeship of Martha Gray, a noted landscaper in the 1980-90’s, Christie weeded, watered, pruned and planted a number of private gardens that had been designed and installed by Mr. Gillette.
In 1998 shortly before he died, Mr. Clinton Webb, Mr. Gillette’s close friend, encouraged her to write a grant to the Mary Parsons Fund for the renovation of the Stony Point School Gardens.
At the Library of Virginia in Richmond, she poured over many of Gillette’s garden drawings, notes and correspondences that span years with multiple clients. She found hand drawn topographical maps, meticulous plant labeling of shrubs, perennials, annuals and even bulbs. She found other treasures like pencil sketches of actual size gate “windows” finials, pots and urns.
In her smaller residential gardens, Christie carries over into the new millennium the “Gillette” sense of scale, balance, vista and inspiration with her plantings, hardscapes and objects of art. She as the same time considers the practical needs of a budget and easy maintenance.
Private Gillette gardens that Christie’s Fine Gardening has maintained or embellished include residences on: Old Locke Lane, Sulgrave Road, Rothsay Circle, Greenway Lane, Oak Lane, Old Mill Road, Three Chopt Road and Monument Avenue and Stoney Point Road.
Signature Features of Gillette Gardens
Christie’s helps maintain one of the few residential gardens that are preserved in its original design. All plantings in any modernization of the home have been done in the Sprit and style of Mr. Gillette.
All pictures below are from the book “Genius in the Garden” by George C. Longest.
Parterres of boxwoods with geometric patterns
Tiered “pediment” garden levels with brick retaining walls
Vistas leading the eye through plantings to exquisite statues, ponds or fountains
Large stands of plantings like tulips, peonies, azaleas or boxwoods
Artistic whimsy like spiral columns or playful muses
Urns and gate portals
For more info look to “Genius in the Garden” Charles F. Gillette and Landscape Architecture in Virginia by George C. Longest