Note: Frog Hollow has closed and Stella has created Winter’s Hollow – read here for more. Because it has closed, I’ve removed the SLurl reference from this review.
Frog Hollow, occupying the north-east corner of the Full region Blue Nile, is a 8176 sq m parcel that has been exquisitely landscaped by Stella Mahogany and offered to the public as a place of exploration and rest. It is also another shining example of why a full-sized region (Full or homestead) isn’t required to create something special and personal in-world.
Bounded on three sides by tall cliffs, Frog Hollow has a nice – but not overpowering – feeling of an enclosed garden, a personal space to be enjoyed without due worry about others looking in. To the west, it faces open water, where a wooden deck sits as the landing point for visitors. Lily pads below the decking offer a place for frogs to hop as lanterns drift on a slow breeze overhead.
A single trail leads inland from here, winding between banks of wild flowers and the trunks of silver birch whose leaves are turning golden in reflection of of the changing of the seasons in the northern hemisphere. Fallow deer are to be seen among the tree trunks, and further inland, wander along the looping path or curiously exploring the spaces available for visitors to enjoy.
The largest of these spaces can be reached a short way among the path, where a little bridge branches away to arch over a dry steam bed and arrive at a set of gabled gates. Beyond these is a large brick-and-glass pavilion (another superb design from Cory Edo, for whose work I have a particular fondness). This is presented as a romantic, magical place. An old grand piano sits at its centre, sheets of music floating and tumbling magically above it as if Harry Potter has recently been by in a playful mood. Cats play under the piano’s lee, and close by a painting, easel and paints await the return of their artist.
To one side of this pavilion sits a small terrace, itself bordered by vines turning to gold, home to a setting for afternoon tea. A further befountained terrace lies to the pavilion’s rear, a paved path winding into the trees beyond. Also reached by a grassy path passing under a Rowan arch and alongside another snug little seating area with cosy bric-a-brac, the paved path leads to yet another patio, marked by a smaller, curtained pavilion presenting a place of rest and comfort.
Whilst all relatively close to one another, these little spots have been designed with considerable care; an eye for the considered use of space and for studied design ensuring that they do not feel clustered one atop the next, whilst also allowing each of them to have its own unique nature.
Nor is this all; facing the front of the pavilion is a further paved area, complete with open fireplace and neatly set out for a formal meal as delicate little lanterns float overhead.
Should you opt not to cross the little bridge into the brick pavilion’s domain but instead follow the path onwards, it will carry you under bough and around twist and turn to a second bridge, and a further enchanted area. Here a chandelier hands from a stout tree branch, and a giant game of chess is set before comfortable armchairs, watched over by more fallow deer even as the trail winds onwards through an old metal gate – and arrives at the brick pavilion.
In this the further genius of Stella’s design is revealed: no matter which route you take when following the path, it will take you through the garden to reveal all the major points of interest before looping you back the to landing point. Along the way you’ll pass many places where you can sit and talk and / or cuddle, engage in a game of chess, listen to, or play, a piano, observe the local fauna – and simply appreciate the beauty of Frog Hollow and Stella’s creative skill and eye for detail. And keep in mind that there are a lot of little touches to be found throughout I’ve not mentioned here (just observe the little pumpkin at the landing point for a couple of minutes, and you’ll see what I mean).
Magical and marvellous, Frog Hollow is a true delight – but it will apparently only be around as long as the leaves are falling. So don’t miss the opportunity to visit and share in the enchantment.