Home Annie's Home Renovation Ahhhhhh . . . Summer in the Garden

Ahhhhhh . . . Summer in the Garden

Okay, I finally spent the better part of the day in my mother’s garden—as I write this, I wonder if I could ever call it my garden, and I know now that I couldn’t.  While I may be changing the house, the garden is forever a creation of one woman and that woman is Mum.  I will tend it, mend, and hopefully learn a great deal from it, but it can never be mine.  I love that this garden was created out of nothing but a mess of trees.  Mum saw the potential of the site much the way an architect can see the potential of a space,  carving out visual clarity and beauty, adding geometry where there once was nothing.

If you have read the book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, you know that we don’t just wake up with a gift; it is a seedling that is nurtured through 10,000 hours of practice in the case of musicians and athletes, of study in the case of architects, or experimentation in the case of many others. Mum was always captivated by gardens and she read extensively and exhaustively on the subject.  She had a voracious appetite for knowledge and, not really knowing it at the time, I watched her eye get more educated and more refined with each garden that she created.  Of her favorite garden designers—Gertrude Jekkyl and Russell Page—she would say to me that it was never about the flowers but instead about the “hardscape”: what created the architecture or structure of the garden. The flowers are really window dressing and in some cases can detract from the garden itself.

A close up of one of the exceptionally beautiful tree peonies that just  finished blooming. Note: they were moved from the front of the house to protect them from the construction.  They will move back in time for next spring.

Here I am taking a closer look at the espalier border of apples and pears.  I will be doing some espalier research when I get a chance to figure out if I should be going up a rung.  I tamed them in the fall but they are getting much taller.  Help!

Mum’s nascent Cloud Hedge.  Stay tuned for follow up on Cloud Hedges.  Do a Google search if you can’t wait. . . .

Note: the view has been framed by trees on either side and given structure by the addition of the arc of cloud hedge on either side of the allée.

Mum had created a 10-foot-by-10-foot  parterre garden with lovely roses and swirled topiary boxwoods.  I moved them all into the vegetable bed last fall so that they wouldn’t be damaged by the construction.  They are thriving, albeit not in their original home.

See above for another beloved plant that Mum saved for me from Court Hill, the big red house I left when I separated from my former husband. She said, “Bring me your favorite plants,” so I brought this hollyhock and three small sage plants that have grown ENORMOUSLY since they have been here.  There is something very special about continuity of plants and of people; even though they may no longer physically be here, their presence is palpable—particularly in the garden.

In celebration of summer and Mum’s garden, today I’m giving away a four-piece wardrobe of Pine Cone Hill linen loungewear. The set includes a peasant tank top,  lounge pants, a nightdress, and tunic in your choice of Honfleur, Corsica, and Washed Linen. All you need to do is leave a comment below on this post! The giveaway starts on June 26 and runs until 11:59 p.m. EST on June 28. The winner will be announced here on the blog on Friday, June 29. (View the full rules here.)

Congratulations to our winner, Zoe F. from Connecticut! 


You may also like


Pam Lapere June 26, 2012 at 10:24 am

Your mother gave you many gifts…most of all her love of nurturing. I have learned that one can never really tame or manage a garden…but the wonders of it are a study in perseverance. Hollyhocks rank at the top of my favorites list. Would love the pjs! Suzi pblapere@att.net

gretel June 26, 2012 at 10:47 am

I love that you transported your favourite flowers to your mother’s garden. I lived in Naples at one time, and every time I return I take a little bit of a cactus to plant wherever I am currently living. It is a wonderful reminder.

Kathryn Neiswender June 26, 2012 at 10:59 am

I know how you feel about being a caretaker of another’s love and hard work. My siblings and I inherited our mother’s home over a decade ago, and despite growing up in it, and her being gone for over a decade, the house will always be Momma’s house. And I love seeing her around every corner. Enjoy!

On another note, love all the linen pretties and would be delighted with any of it. Thanks for the opportunity lounge around in Pine Cone Hill! Kathryn

Rochelle June 26, 2012 at 11:14 am

Your mother’s garden pictures are inspiring! And such a lovely color for a hollyhock.

Mary Cullinan June 26, 2012 at 11:16 am

Your beautiful pictures and words connect the legacy of your Mother’s garden and home in the way you carry on in everything you do. The way she lived inspired you; and now you provide us with ideas and inspirations through the photos and sharing what each means to you. I love that you share your Mom’s sense of beauty with us!

Linda D June 26, 2012 at 11:25 am

I love the roses, I can almost smell them! You should add scratch and sniff to your website! I also love the lounging togs – they look so comfy.

Trish June 26, 2012 at 11:31 am

Love the PJ’s and the garden-wish we could’ve met Mum!

Zoe F June 26, 2012 at 11:40 am

Because so many of my plantings were gifts and diggings from friends, strolling though my gardens is like visiting with them and reliving warm memories …gardens are like that.

mrtha bryan June 26, 2012 at 11:50 am

Your Mother left you the very best gift of all, – great memories.

Judy Ryan June 26, 2012 at 12:18 pm

The roses in the parterre garden are stunning. So nice you can enjoy this special inheritance. Judy

Pat Shevlin June 26, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Gardening is the defining and fondest memory of my mother. Even though she had five kids and I’m sure time was challenged I always felt special when I was with her in the garden. The fact that I am a weekend passionate gardener does not surprise me; I doubt it would surprise her. I recently celebrated the first anniversary of her death.

Pam Pafford June 26, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Today is a day in the garden for me, and I found your beautiful post when I came in for a bite of lunch. Gardens are a gift for the gardener and for the visitors. I find being in the garden one of the most spiritual things I do. What a glorious gift from your mother!

Jackie Reini June 26, 2012 at 12:37 pm

What a beautiful garden. I wish that I could one day have one with such gorgeous flowers. It must be such a wonderful feeling to walk outside and see all the beauty and color.
Thank you for the chance to win these lovely pajamas.

Kathy Cazares June 26, 2012 at 12:41 pm

I can just smell the everything, looking at these pictures. Thanks for sharing.

Ginny Mitchell June 26, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Love the “Cloud Hedge” – that’s exactly what I am attempting in my yard, on a smaller scale – didn’t know there was a name for it! Definitely doing the google search. Keep having fun!

Cheryl June 26, 2012 at 1:37 pm

What a wonderful gift from your mother. I’m wondering if your grandmother shared her love of gardening with your mom.
Your linens are the best.

Cathy Haynes June 26, 2012 at 1:45 pm

What a wonderful legacy your mother has left you. How comforting it must be to walk in your garden and have so many reminders of your mother. A beautiful garden of memories to keep her close to your heart.

Cindy in Idaho June 26, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Teaching a Young Gardener.

I am a grandmother-in-training… neither of my own kids has fallen in love and married, which is perfectly fine, but my daughter’s single friend has a 3-year-old little girl, Jaylinn. Jaylinn’s mommy is stressed and harried, doing her best to make ends meet, but pretty much in survival mode. As my good luck would have it, Jaylinn is frequently at our house on weekends and evenings, so this spring, I bought her childsize gloves (“my glubs,” she calls them), and a hand spade (“my digguh,” she calls it), and have brought her out with me to garden. She is learning so fast, and so much: that worms, bees and ladybugs are our friends; that plants need a drink, just as she does; that perfect shade of a perfect pink rose… I am never happier than in my garden, and to see it anew through the eyes of a child is spectacular. Your mom, Annie, obviously knew this joy, too.

Julie A June 26, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Just dicovered your blog. love the work you are doing and the sharing of the process and the beauty.

Victoria June 26, 2012 at 6:47 pm

What a lovely legacy, memories and garden. The PJs are amazing, too!

Dorothy B June 27, 2012 at 1:19 am

What a beautiful and touching post. And thank you for the chance to win the lovely linen pieces!

Rain B June 27, 2012 at 9:05 am

PJ’s, memories & the garden..the BEST combo ever!! I would just need a little bit of fresh brewed coffee, and that would be my idea of utopia! Thank you for sharing!

Celia R June 27, 2012 at 9:06 am

My stepfather passed love of gardening to me and I love when he divides his perennials and shares them with me. It is like passing on generations.

Oh and love the PJ’s, my favorite styles.

Edwina June 27, 2012 at 9:44 am

It will be in the 100s in Alabama this week. It would be awfully tempting to wear those linens all day long, even (or maybe especially) in the garden!

Leslie B June 27, 2012 at 10:17 am

So happy to have found your blog!! As I sit in my backyard looking at the garden my husband and I have been working on all summer, your blog brought me to tears!! While my mother is here, but lives far away, and my grandmother has passed, they inspired upon us the love of gardening.
I have transplanted from their garden to mine, so I could enjoy my coffee while watching them bloom. It makes me feel as if they are here with me every morning!!
I can only hope to pass this love on to my teenagers.
Thank you for sharing and I do believe it is also YOUR garden that your mother has passed on to you with lots of love.
Would love to share the PJ’S with my mother when she comes to visit me in OUR garden!!

Betsy June 27, 2012 at 12:46 pm

I love that the Hollyhocks are growing so lovingly in your mothers garden.

Katy June 27, 2012 at 1:04 pm

I love the cloud hedge! Simple and so sophisticated.

Megan June 27, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Today would have been my mom’s 70th birthday. Your garden reminds of the lovely places she would sneak off to and paint. Her wonderful watercolors fill my walls and remind me of her and the gardens she was able to preserve with her work. Thank you for sharing your beautiful garden.

birdie blue June 27, 2012 at 4:16 pm

your mother’s garden is beautiful. love the cloud hedge. what a gift she left for you…


Mary June 27, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Anyone can (and should) plant a garden, but to hone and polish those skills to a high level is something else again. We know that gardens are an inexhaustible font of inspiration for interior design, but the value of gardens like those of Gertrude Jekyll, and your mum – gifted women who have honed and polished their skills over years and years of practice – far exceeds that of the highest-end interior design. Because gardens always reveal something of the soul of the gardener – in a way no interior space ever could.
If you have done interior design work but have never designed a garden, you should try! It’s amazing to work with “rooms” in which the “walls” and “furniture” grow and the “fabrics” change color as the weeks and months go by. You could never imagine how incredibly rewarding it can be.
Tired-out gardeners deserve a good night’s sleep, and celebrating the day’s accomplishments in such lovely linen loungewear will surely bring sweet dreams!

Sara P. June 28, 2012 at 12:50 pm

What lovely photos!! and the loungewear looks super comfy!!

Monica Flegg June 28, 2012 at 1:41 pm

Your mother certainly cultivated lovely gardens along with her knowledge of what makes them so! Thank you for sharing such beautiful photographs!

Kathy June 28, 2012 at 7:26 pm

There will come a time when you’ll refer to it as, Our Garden. The view and the plants are so beautiful. You’re truly blessed to have this connection with your mother. Right now you’re blending your mothers vision with your own. How nice.


Leave a Comment