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!