A Painter's Art Imitates the Vibrant Garden Life She Cultivates
Take a stroll through Katy Gannon-Janelle’s formal and freewheeling Falmouth gardens.
ABOVE Fenced vegetable beds are tucked between perennial borders and a gazebo.
TEXT BY AURELIA C. SCOTT
PHOTOGRAPHED BY KARI HERER
From the August 2021 issue of Down East magazine
Flowers bloom year-round at Katy Gannon-Janelle and Pierre Janelle’s home, which overlooks a small branch of the Presumpscot River, in Falmouth. During the growing season, a painter’s palette of clematis, columbines, daylilies, irises, and peonies surrounds their Colonial Revival-inspired place. When winter puts the gardens to bed, botanical watercolors blossom in Katy’s studio.
An interior designer, painter, and winner of the Lina F. Wagner Perennial Garden Award from New England Garden Clubs, Katy looked to 1920s Colonial Revival and 18th-century Georgian homes, particularly Portsmouth’s John Paul Jones House, for landscape inspiration. A stone wall and picket fence near the two-acre property’s entrance reflect those stylistic traditions, as do the front-yard’s tidy perennials, including buddleias, irises, lilies, and liatrises. Along the west side of the house, knee-high boxwood shrubs, geranium Albas, rose campions, and an arbor draped in clematis and honeysuckle give way to a stone-flagged dining terrace near the back door. There, trellised roses, colorful annuals, and culinary herbs used by Pierre — an avid cook and the third generation of his family to own the Edgewater Motor Inn, in Old Orchard Beach — scent the sunny space.
ABOVE Watercolorist Katy Gannon-Janelle and hotel owner Pierre Janelle’s two-acre Falmouth property on the Presumpscot River is enlivened by a shady Asian-fusion garden, a sitting-area arbor swathed in clematis and honeysuckle.
As you move away from the house, formality fades. Swaths of daisies, daylilies, and peonies, interspersed with glacially deposited rocks, form a border between lawn and woods, simple farm fencing encloses a pair of vegetable gardens, and apple and peach trees blossom and fruit in a small meadow.
Near the meadow, a wooded glade shelters an Asian-fusion garden, conceived with the couple’s young-adult children, Charlotte and Christian, in mind. A Buddha statue gazes benevolently over the garden’s western entrance and a small red bridge spans a bubbling stream believed to offer good fortune and energy. Bleeding hearts, Charlotte’s favorite flower, glow pink among elderberries, European ginger, Japanese irises, and Blue Angel, Frances Williams, and plantaginea hostas. Statues of turtles, Christian’s favorite animal when he was little, perch on rocks nestled between umbrella and mugo pines.
ABOVE A sample of Katy’s watercolors; roses of Sharon.
Just beyond lies a dappled woodland where the family found helleborine, a European orchid long naturalized in Maine. Inspired by the discovery, Katy focused on local orchids and native lilies for her Certificate in Botanical Arts, from Boothbay’s Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. Orchids also starred in her watercolor exhibit there last year.
“My painting and gardening mentors have taught me so much about noticing the natural world and appreciating your personal art,” she says. “So, this is how I think about it. In the summer, I ‘paint’ our garden with plants. Pierre uses herbs and homegrown vegetables to cook, which is part of his art. In the winter, I paint plants with watercolors. It’s all of a piece. Nature all the time.”