Bristolians Jackie Savoie and Dennis McCool both lived on picturesque Poppasquash Point, but it was only after they met, married and moved down the street that Jackie was tasked with beginning a new garden that would rival her once existing eye-catcher. “The gardens weren’t to my liking; they were very sparse,” she says. “I had a few people work with me along the way and Sophath took it to the next level,” she explains. Sophath Toun of Soto Design is the local landscape designer that made Jackie’s vision, quite literally, come to life.
A crescent garden peppered with colorful perennials on a hillside overlooking Narragansett Bay greets guests at the front of the house. A few adjustments were made to accommodate this year’s newest addition, a vegetable garden. While the family (the couple has five adult children between them both) enjoys the spoils of the newest addition, the vegetable garden is also a favorite of some other Poppasquash locals — a herd of 70-80 deer. “The deer eat everything!” Jackie says with a laugh. Undeterred, Jackie’s garden, featuring Dennis’ favorite vegetables, includes three different types of eggplant, four kinds of tomatoes, snap peas, orange peppers, lettuce, zucchini, cucumbers, rhubarb, asparagus and an herb garden that rounds out the seasonal bounty. “We planted whatever my husband wanted. I was happy to,” she says. “He’s happy.”
Friend Marty Haliburton was one of the first to get the garden started and help to fashion its delightful design. Today, Brendan Kennedy and Fred Castrataro are on the case now with Sophath at the helm. About a year and-a-half ago, Brendan, a member of the Rhode Island Beekeepers Association, approached Jackie and asked if he could introduce a beehive to her garden. Jackie was tickled at the prospect and encouraged the prosperous green thumb to add a second hive. “We’ll get a good amount of honey this fall,” Jackie says enthusiastically.
The fruit of all of their labor has been available for the public to enjoy, as the property is one of a handful included in Blithewold’s Intimate Garden Tour Series. “Peaceful Poppasquash,” as Jackie’s leg of the tour is entitled, will expose the hard work and investment (both emotional and financial) that has made the extraordinary property what it is today. But Jackie is quick to point out that it took a village. “It’s totally a team effort, with Jackie doing the least amount,” she concedes. “I have an unbelievable team here.”
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