Nicknamed the “hug garden” because of its semi-circle shape, the Greenwich woman has lovingly cultivated a variety of cornflower, coneflower, columbine, lady’s mantle, phlox, daylilies, poppies and ornamental grasses that are the focal point of the side yard.
“I wanted to have an area that people could sit out on the porch,” Duvall said.
For 15 years, the garden bid welcome to guests of Country Life, the bed and breakfast Duvall ran with her husband, Richard, at their 1829 flat-front farm house.
Visitors could meander around the manicured two acres — just a fraction of the 120 the Duvalls own — and take in spectacular views of mountains and farmland in all directions.
It has been about a year and a half since the Duvalls last greeted travelers at their home, but they spend a lot of their retirement hours still tending to the hug garden, as well as many others, that dot the property.
It’s a luxury for Duvall to have so much space to indulge her passion. Before locating to Greenwich in 1998, they ran another Country Life bed and breakfast on Long Island.
The name was more ironic on Garden City, where the Duvalls’ property was about a quarter-acre in bustling Nassau County.
Here, Duvall can grow a variety of flowers, herbs, vegetables and berries that could rival some farmers’ markets. The 27 blueberry shrubs that line the driveway are so prolific, she dedicates one freezer just to their storage before using the fruit in pancakes, muffins and cakes.
And nothing beats the peace of the secluded property.
“I did not miss that Long Island mess from the minute I stepped foot up here,” Duvall said. “Some people can just tune out; I need the real peace and quiet.”
A lot of work went into getting the acreage in shape. When the couple moved in, the land was virtually unlandscaped, with only three peony bushes and a mass of tangled raspberry vines that grew into the lawn.
The Duvalls have made vignettes of plantings, some set off with low rock walls. One area between two trees was too narrow for the mower to get through, so now there is a raised bed of coral bells, bleeding hearts and hostas.
Duvall didn’t have a plan in mind when she started her gardens. Instead, she went on the advice of an avid gardener who generously shared with her his divided perennials.
Now, she pays the favor forward by sending out emails, letting her friends know when she has plants to give away.
The upkeep of the yard is intense, the couple admitted, with four hours on the rider mower, in addition to the push mower, edger and weed whacker.
But it’s a lifestyle that works for them.
“Maybe I was a country girl at heart all along and never knew it,” Duvall said.