Adjacent to the Dartmouth College campus in Hanover, New Hampshire and home to a family of multi-generational Dartmouth Alumni, the gardens of Occom are a result of a carefully conceived blending of a newly built contemporary home and the existing fabric of a more traditional turn of the century neighborhood. Though little about the gardens of Occom are traditional, the inherit materials, forms, and plant palettes that make them up are. Line, form, and shadow played pivotal roles in creating a playful, cohesive, and experiential series of environmentally sensitive garden rooms.
Most of the materials used to construct the gardens were from sustainable sources and often, obtained within 30 miles from the project site. Due to the site’s proximity directly next to college’s prized and active recreational pond, special attention was given to accommodating runoff water from the site. Most materials used on the ground surface allow for permeability into the subsurface sandy soils and/or stone recharge beds. The grass joints within the concrete pavement of the pool terrace not only break up a large mass but are designed to act as water collectors and direct the water into stone recharge beds under the pavement. The series of lines created by the grass joints continue the cohesive aspect of the overall design and mimic the shadows that are cast onto the 8’ tall Concrete Wall by the Douglas Fir Pergola. A grass meadow was incorporated on the western 3:1 slopes facing the pond and allows the periodic water surges that penetrate the site to be slowed and filtered as they shed to the pond. To activate the meadow for the user, a mown switchback path was set within the slopes and directs one to a fire pit and/ or access to the pond’s edge. In an effort and experiment to ease maintenance, pollution, and water usage, the upper pool lawn was constructed with an artificial fescue turf.
The series of garden rooms that circumvent the site connect via “invisible” concrete steps, mown paths, or pea stone walks and include the Terraced Lawn, Woodland Garden, Vegetable Garden, Stone Garden, Shade Garden, Pool Garden, Fire Pit, Lower Lawn, Meadow, and Birch Grove. Each room is unique and provides the user with varied experiences throughout the day and year. Many of the plants within the palettes of the gardens are native and include, White Birch, Viburnum sp., Witchhazel, Pagoda Dogwood, Red Maple, Solomon’s Seal, Little Bluestem, Black Tupelo, Eastern Hemlock, Clethra, and Hayscented Fern to name a few.