The property was purchased in 1960 by Alston Barrett and with the arrival of Kristian Fenderson the plantings were begun in 1967. They now include many mature specimens of rare or unusual conifers, deciduous trees, rhododendrons, azaleas, and innumerable other shrubs.
The lawn and pasture areas one sees today was once a derelict tangle of bramble bushes, goldenrod, common juniper, and young pine trees. The only cultivated woody plants that date earlier than 1967 are the Lilac, Philadelphus, and Symphorcarpus at the immediate southeast corner of the house. The woodland gardens behind the barn were created over the years by clearing and planting what once was an impenetrable jungle of 40-year-old pasture pine and grey birch.
The house, which had been in the Merrill family for 150 years, dates from about 1790 and the barn was constructed in 1836; the exterior of the latter was restored to its original appearance several decades ago. The property was a year around residence until the 1920s and then a summer residence from the late 1920s until the 1960s. Much to our surprise we recently discovered that both Alston and I were both distantly related by different branches to the Merrill family.
THE CREATORS: Alston W. Barrett (1925-2017) Born in Keene, NH he served in the Navy Medical Corps in World War II following which he was a commercial fisherman on the Cranberry Isles, Maine and in management in the hospitality industry in Florida and New Hampshire. Following his retirement, he became very active in local affairs including serving several terms as Selectman in Acworth, on the Acworth Planning Board, as County Commissioner of Sullivan County, NH, and most recently as the long-term Chair of the Acworth, NH Trustees of Trust Funds. His passions were the management and improvement of the land and forests of the property. Although not an obsessed plants person, he was deeply dedicated to his vegetable gardens, his Iris and Peony collection, and his trees.
Kristian Fenderson (1945-) Since 1968 he has been the operator of a landscape design, maintenance, and installation company whose projects have been undertaken throughout New England and as far afield as Louisville, Kentucky. His work has been featured several times in Horticulture Magazine, and most recently in NH Homes Magazine: http://www.nhhomemagazine.com/March-April-2014/A-grand-spring-awakening-at-the-Grout-Hill-Farm
Over many years Kristian has been active in the American Rock Garden Society, the American Primrose Society, the Garden Conservancy, and the Fells, at the John Hay National Wildlife Refuge in Newbury, New Hampshire. He is on the board of the Edward Carey Award Committee of the Worchester County Horticultural Society at the Tower Hill Botanic Garden. He has written articles for the Bulletins of the American Rock Garden Society and the American Primrose Society and Horticulture magazine. He is the author of the book A Synoptic Guide to the Genus Primula published by Allen Press in 1986. In addition, Kristian is chair and co-founder of the Acworth Community Charitable Trust and sexton of the Acworth Cemeteries.
We are extremely fortunate to have the longtime assistance of Acworth resident Gail Lavoie. Gail is a very knowledgeable plants person whose help is invaluable in maintaining the garden when she is not working for an interior plant maintenance company. Acworth resident David Huffling is another invaluable asset to the maintenance of the garden and property. We could not do without him.
The gardens are dedicated to the memory of Hedwig Krueger Lindholm (1898-1986) horticulturist and landscaper who was Kristian’s inspiration, professional mentor, and dear friend.