June 14, 2024

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We Do Fine Home

Athena Calderone’s Garden Design Is a Slice of Europe in NYC

A Stop-and-Start Project

The garden continued to sit bare for a while until March 2020 when mutual friend Taylor from Fox Fodder Farm introduced her to the CEO and creative director of Brook Landscape, Brook Klausing. As Athena recalls: “I love collaboration and I have a lot of loyalty for those who I build relationships with. I also trust my instincts when I meet someone. After the first conversation we had discussing the materiality and vision for the garden, I just felt like he got it. He understood design but he also had expertise in landscaping and horticulture—he really bridged the two worlds. I had never met a landscape designer who had that same symbiotic approach to design that I have.” 

But almost as soon as they started talking, the world shut down and COVID hit pause on all of their plans. With everyone spending more time at home, the Calderone family started looking for projects to keep themselves occupied. “We spent a week, just the three of us, hacking away at the garden, getting our saws out taking down an old wire fence, removing tree stumps, and digging,” she says. “It felt good to do it ourselves and to have a clean slate. It was also easier to imagine what could be there once it was demoed.” It took them a week to clear everything out and eventually they were left with a rather large but vacant dirt space. “We didn’t quite know what to do with it at that point, haha! So we put a fence up and laid grass down but it still remained this vacant space. At least it was cleared out and not a menagerie of weeds anymore, but there was no plant life, no soul to it, no creativity, no plantings.” 

Athena reconnected with Brook a few times during that period but something always seemed to interrupt the process. “It has been a start-and-stop project for about three years,” she says. “When we did finally get together and sketch out the initial idea for the garden, Victor was diagnosed with cancer and so once again, the project was put on hold. I felt bad having to cancel this garden twice, so it feels good now to finally see it all come to fruition.”