I am an accidental gardener. Come to think of it, I’m an accidental everything: gardener, photographer, blogger, and rescue supporter. These were not planned; I was just drawn to them and happened upon people who graciously showed me the way.
A fellow blogger, Helen Johnstone of the Patient Gardener’s Weblog, shared a new book: the “First Ladies of Gardening.” Normally, a title like that would put me straight off. But I admire Helen’s blog, so I ordered it. And I’m so glad I did!
I did not grow up with gardens or gardeners. I vaguely recall that my grandmother grew flowers to inspire her paintings, but I spent very little time with either. What I have learned has been the result of trial and error, as well as lessons from my gardener partners at the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden.
In “First Ladies of Gardening,” I learned names like Gertrude Jekyll, Vita Sackville-West – whose directive “cram, cram, cram” I already follow – and Beth Chatto, who believed that making a garden was like making a family.
But there is one gardener whose spirit I admire just as much as her garden: Margery Fish and her cottage garden at East Lambrook Manor.
Margery Fish did not begin gardening until she was in her forties. Quietly rebellious – the author shares – she allowed small plants to grow in the crevices of her husband’s perfectly groomed paths, and inadvertently stopped watering his “proper” plant choices in favor of her leafy, wild and rare perennials. New plants that mysteriously appeared were explained as “gifts” that simply could not be refused. The garden – once a jungle – was planted in abundance and self-sowing seeds were left to distribute unexpected surprises that kept the garden looking natural and unfussy.
Margery Fish believed that you can’t rush a garden. You need to get the feel of its surroundings, and then it grows by degrees.
Our Memorial Garden has grown this way. Pushing out and overflowing its ever-enlarged beds, blooming with donated gifts,
filled with surprise remembrances,
and dressed – of course – with dogs.
I think every garden needs dogs.
We have a long way to go to match the majesty of East Lambrook Manor, but I am filled with inspiration.
And did I mention…dogs?
“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.” ~ A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young
With a brief, but welcome rain this week, followed by unseasonably warm temperatures, the garden truly came to life.
I should stop saying “unseasonably warm” and just get accustomed to it. Those who don’t believe in climate change surely are not gardeners.
Sarah is back; returned from a year of hard labor on the graveyard/weekend shift at work. We have missed her in the garden.
I love getting to the garden early before everyone else arrives. It’s my chance to survey and see what has newly popped up,
begun to blossom,
or made its way into the garden beds thanks to those mischievous elves.
This is my time to take a few photos,
and to enjoy the company of the garden creatures; nesting Killdeer…
and rare yellow ducks.
My solitude is broken by the play of puppies in the adjacent yard…
and dog walkers – not just passing through – but stopping to sit and play now that the weather is warm.
“You have to give people something to dream on.” ~ Jimi Hendrix
We give you the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden in spring.
To my frozen blogger friends and family on the east coast, I send a tiny bit of spring and offer this deal: if you’ll send water in form of melted snow and ice, we’ll keep sending flowers. 🙂
“The color of springtime is in the flowers; the color of winter is in the imagination.” ~ Terri Guillemets
Oops…those sneaky dogs!!
Stay warm all (and use lots and lots of imagination until spring).