The garden’s original framework, hinted at by the ancient maple, was the work of Charles’s grandfather, who built the house in 1911 on land hat had been part of his own father's 'gentleman's farm." Charles' grandfather spent his life carving a garden out of the open fields, building hundreds of feet of stone walls, terracing the land and creating numerous beds filled with shrubs and trees. When he died the property was passed to his son and then ultimately to Charles, the third generation of Cresson's to inherit a great love for the land and a passion for gardening - although unlike his father and grandfather Charles has a formal horticultural training, studying both in the US and in England to study at the Royal Horticultural Society at Wisley.
Charles has made Hedgeleigh his life work, preserving his grandfather's original design but adding a complex layer of herbaceous perennials and annuals - as he says he is refining his grandfather's design, "finishing off the picture". When he took over the garden was showing signs of its age, and he took on the arduous task of rebuilding many of the walls and painstakingly renovating most of the beds - lifting out the plants, rejuvenating the soil and replanting some of the original specimens and replacing others with plants of similar nature.
Over the thirty year plus years he has transformed the garden into a consummate plantsman's paradise - adding over two thousand species and varieties that range from ordinary (roses and salvias) to the extraordinary - a Chinese persimmon (Diospyros kaki ‘Great Wall’) so laden with small orange fruit in the fall that Charles refers to it as "the pumpkin tree” and dozens of fall and spring flowing camellias, some so rare they are unnamed.
To have a garden created and lovingly maintained by three generations of gardeners is unusual - to have one whose steward is one of the country's leading horticulturists' pushes it into the extraordinary. It is a garden that, like great music, can be appreciated on many levels - These layers of gardening, laid down by three generations over the past ninety years, give the garden a beauty and maturity— “people without musical training might like a piece of music simply because it sounds good, or makes them feel good,” Charles says. “But a musician will hear it with a whole different level of understanding. My hope is that this garden is worthy of being appreciated on that deeper level, by those who can."