Victoria and Neill Clegg’s haven in the heart of Greensboro’s Westerwood neighborhood
Story and Photographs by Lynn Donovan
The gardens of Victoria and Neill Clegg exude mystery and enchantment. The duo responsible for curating and performing, respectively, O.Henry Hotel’s Jazz Series, has surrounded their 1930s English-style cottage in the Westerwood neighborhood of Greensboro with lush havens defined by salvaged stone and brick rubble. The front yard and garden are bordered by more stone in the form of a succulent-studded wall topped with all sorts of low-growing plants. The sentinels of the front garden are four tree hydrangea, their white blooms contrasting sharply with the warm tones of the wall and house. An archway of jasmine beckons entry to the front stoop. Window boxes filled to the brim with white petunias and cascading plants pull the eye upward to the half-timbered gable. Every inch of this luscious garden space is occupied with plantings of all types.
Another stone wall, this one original to the house, lines the driveway and leads to a wooden wall punctuated with a set of unusual doors purchased from a local peddler. Swinging open they reveal more enchantment: a backyard garden with an old chicken coop/garage and garden shed as the main attractions.
A stone terrace of Pennsylvania bluestone is planted with dichondra to add softness. A casual seating area anchors one end, and the other way leads straight into the Coop, the star of this garden. The Cleggs have hosted countless small gatherings in this magical place, including weddings and art events.
A pergola, accented with iron treasures collected over the years by the Cleggs, covers the entryway that is lined with all sorts of hanging plants, chimes, and more treasures. Stone bases made by stonemason Brain Pacheco anchor the pergola and tie this area to the other stone elements throughout the garden.
Inside the screened coop is a little slice of comfy heaven. Victoria explains her finds: “The old table and the bench came over from Asia on one of those big containers,” she recalls. She found it after a furniture market a few years ago and within hours she had it strapped to the back of a pickup: “It is a great gathering space to share stories or oftentimes work on a piece of art at home instead of my studio.” The glider, she explains, “was found off the side of a road [as we] headed to Virginia. It sat on the porch of the Clegg beach house for years and then finally came home to roost in the coop.” She goes on to say that all of the wicker has a family connection: It belonged to Neill’s grandmother. “Some repairs and fresh paint breathed new life into everything!” With old leather chairs at the table came that from a local consignment store, Victoria realized her vision of always to seating 10 to 12, without sacrificing scale and more important, hindering those stunning garden views. Overhead hangs a chandelier acquired at a tag sale in the Gate City’s Sunset Hills neighborhood. “All the accessories were just treasures we found as the project progressed,” Victoria recalls. “The moss-covered lamp was a handmade birthday gift from local artist Linda Franks Lowe. There is an old copper pot as you enter the coop that used to be a light fixture at Kepley’s Barn,” she says, referring to the popular event space owned by High Point’s barbecue institution that burned down nearly 20 years ago. “The old column that holds the big bluebird palace came from [famed Greensboro designer] Otto Zenke. Artifacts from the local area for sure.”
From inside the coop there is a gorgeous view of the garden and the special garden “She Shed.” The tall columns from Preservation Greensboro’s retail outlet, Architectural Salvage, give the shed its unusual height, and another set of old doors from the peddler add character to a functional building. “When we finish planting out the She Shed, it will be magical in ways that delight the senses,” states Victoria. The gardens behind the coop feature another wall of stone accented with ferns and hosta and is a favorite perching spot for the Cleggs’ two dogs, Duchess and Coltrane.
The Cleggs are looking forward to watching their garden mature, enjoying sunrise coffee, listening to late afternoon rains on the tin roof, and to hosting more soirées, art and music events in the Enchanted Garden and Coop — and creating many enchanted evenings.
Lynn Donovan is a contributing photographer to Seasons’ sister publication, O.Henry magazine.
Enchanted gardens nowadays aren’t conjured into existence. Victoria Clegg recommends the following troop of professional gnomes if you’re looking for some of your own enchantment: Lee Rogers (landscape design); Ron Small (Reedy Fork Environmental); Ron Ferguson, gardener and plantsman); Brian Pacheco, stonemason; Cliff Mattson (“master magician” and contractor) Linda Franks Lowe (“best stylist on the planet”); and Neill Clegg, (“King of the Enchanted Cottage, my prince, my hot sax player, the love of my life who always says yes to all my ideas!”).