The Brine Garden is a chapter of “Gardens of the Hudson Valley”

“The line between art and nature has never seemed so blurred as it is in the Brine Garden.”

Gardens of the Hudson Valley

Legendary American landscape design figures—Alexander Jackson Downing, Frederick Law Olmsted, Beatrix Farrand, and Fletcher Steele—all worked in the Hudson Valley.

Gardens of the Hudson Valley celebrates the historic and artistic landscape. Photographers Steve Gross and Susan Daly specialize in architecture, interiors, gardens, travel and lifestyle. Steve and Sue have selected twenty-five gardens between Yonkers and Hudson, including the fabled estate gardens – Kykuit, Boscobel, and Olana (open to the public) and private gardens that combine sweeping views and lush plantings.

Garden writers Susan Lowry and Nancy Berner are the authors of Garden Guide: New York City, revised edition, 2010, Norton. In Gardens of the Hudson Valley they describe each of the gardens, focusing on the history of the site and the strategies for design and plant materials.

Forward by Gregory Long, president of The New York Botanical Garden
Monacelli Press
Publication date: October 19, 2010glcom-hero5putty170.jpg
ISBN: 978-1-58093-277-6 (1-58093-277-0)

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Brine Garden Open Day & Fall Events


The Garden Conservancy, which makes America’s finest private gardens available to the public, presents the Brine Garden and the Scherer Garden in Pawling, NY, this Saturday, October 2, from 2-6 pm, rain or shine ($5 admission per garden).

In fall, rather than focusing on flowers, these gardens feature the ambiance created by vistas, their plants’ form, texture, and color. Kathy and Stan Scherer’s  botanically rich garden includes woodland paths, a mix of woody and herbaceous plantings, and a memorable Quaker Hill view.

The Brine Home in fall with red Viburnum berries. ©

The New York Times, Horticulture Magazine, and other publications have featured Duncan Brine’s work. In the New York Times, Anne Raver describes the Brine Garden as “a dreamlike landscape.” She writes: “…the plants have been given unexpected roles, in unusual places, and the delight comes in seeing what they will do on this ever-changing stage.”

Horticulture’s Carleen Madigan explores Brine’s landscape design method, saying, “…the Brine garden is the embodiment of Duncan’s philosophy of gardening large. This concept doesn’t necessarily relate to size; it’s the idea that an entire property, be it two acres or twenty, should be seen and treated as one garden…”

Marilyn Bethany, formerly of New York magazine, wrote about the Brine Garden in “All good gardens are instructive. This one? It will blow your mind.”

In the Brine Garden: Gravel pathways wind through densely planted areas. ©


Diverse trees, shrubs, and grasses structure the naturalistic six acre Brine Garden, including an allée of the native, faux evergreen, Taxodium; a group of the uncommon understory maple, Acer triflorum; a grove of the native exfoliating birch, Betula nigra; a clutch of dense tree canopies from Persia, Parrotia; a band of distinctive fast growing, native swamp oak, Quercus bicolor, which was just introduced at the site of the former World Trade center; and the towering grass, Miscanthus giganteus, just coming into “flower” which to many resembles bamboo. Brine Garden visitors receive a property map and a list with botanical and common names distinguishing between U.S. native and locally indigenous plants.


Brine Garden 20th anniversary


Saturday’s Open Day is part of the Brine Garden 20th anniversary, which honors Doug Tallamy’s groundbreaking book, Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants (2009 Timber Press and available at Pawling’s Book Cove). Tallamy, an entomologist, writes of a future where the canopies of indigenous backyard trees link to provide meaningful habitat, especially for birds and pollinating insects.

Brine Garden 20th Anniversary logo

The 20th year celebration began with a festive opening for an exhibit of Brine Garden images at Pawling’s Gallery on the Green and continues with the concurrent publication of a magazine article and a new book featuring the garden.

Duncan Brine’s article, “Inviting Nature into Your Garden,” urges those, “starting a new garden or contemplating a redesign, to consider a naturalistic approach, which has renewed relevance in today’s environment.” His feature story, accompanied by many images, is in the current issue of The American Gardener, published by the American Horticultural Society. (To read excerpts from the article, join the Brine Garden page on Facebook.)

Gardens of the Hudson Valley (2010 Monacelli Press), with a foreword by the New York Botanical Garden president, Gregory Long, has lavish, revealing photographs of the Brine Garden by Sue Daley and Steve Gross and interpretative text by Nancy Berner and Susan Lowry.

FrOGS Event

FrOGS logo

Duncan, with his wife and partner Julia Brine, will staff one of many tables at the free (donations accepted) upcoming FrOGS Art Show and Celebration of the Great Swamp, October 23 and 24, on Pawling’s Quaker Hill, in the exhibit hall behind Christ Church. FrOGS is dedicated to the protection and preservation of the Great Swamp of Dutchess and Putnam Counties through science and education. This lively annual event allows the whole family to learn, from a variety of sources, about what’s going on with the nature in our midst, and to discover the Brines’ passion and vision for a private garden’s potential. They are principals of Horticultural Design, Inc., a landscape design and installation firm, specializing in native plants and naturalistic gardens since 1984.


Visit, for directions to the Brine and Scherer gardens, information about the FrOGS event, and more about Horticultural Design, Inc, Duncan Brine, and the Brine Garden.