This January I have a special reason for looking back at the successes and failures of the past year AND looking forward with a special care – I am going to be on our local Land Trust Farm and Garden Tour. It is scheduled for the last weekend in June which is perfect for my garden because that includes the Sunday of the Annual Rose Viewing. This year people will have to pay to stop and smell the roses.
A friend asked me how nervous I was – and the answer is very!
We live in the country. Our house and gardens are surrounded by about 25 acres of fields and 30 + acres of woodland. The gardens have grown like Topsy around the house, mostly to the front which is a south slope.
The earliest section of the garden to be organized is the famous Rose Walk which we started in 1982. I planted 3 hardy roses in the middle of the lawn for no reason that I can remember. The Rose Walk was invented to give those 3 lonely shrubs a raison d’etre. Now we have about 60 roses (I keep losing count) on a double Rose Walk. I began with Passionate Nymph’s Thigh (the name was irresistible) and have added the striking Rosa glauca, Ispahan, Dart’s Dash, Madame Plantier, Apart, Mount Blanc and dozens of others. There are albas and rugosas, Buck hybrids and a few mysteries.
After our barn burned down in 1990 we turned the three stone walls of the foundation into a Sunken Garden. Making soil in the space was a challenge, but plants have come and gone. The most striking thing in the Sunken Garden as this point is a beautiful Sargent Crab. The problem that remains is the bogginess of that space in the spring. I know, I know. I could have a Bog Garden, but that would take money for labor, not to mention my own labor to make that happen so it is not on the immediate agenda. If it is dry enough in late June I will be lucky to have it neatly mowed. Unfortunately the Sargent Crab will not be in bloom that late.
Oddly enough, it is the area right in front of the house that has taken the longest to acquire a civilized appearance. The wooden porch that was sinking into the mud when we bought the house has finally been replaced with a piazza, a Welcoming Platform and a paved entry walk. In front of all that is an herb garden that is useful to the cooks, and attractive to the hummingbirds and bees. It even has a rose bush, Thomas Affleck, that is doing very well. Does anyone tell you that herb gardens are not really neat sorts of gardens? NO! Herbs are wonderful, fragrant and delicious, and really strong growers. Not neat.
This past spring I planted a new Front Garden, in front of the house, on the eastern side of the front door. This plan worked better than I dared dream. Here in the early spring sun, protected by the house, I was able to start early lettuces, and broccoli. Nasturtiums made a kind of transition between the broccoli and the Daylily Bank, a slope that I planted last summer to eliminate some difficult lawn mowing. I don’t have any photos of the very productive veggies, or the whole Daylily Bank which is planted mostly with red, pink and pale yellow daylilies. This one will have to stand for the whole.
Because the slope in front of the house extends to the east I have also been planting a Rose Bank. Room for more roses including Knockouts, more Buck roses and more rugosas like Pink Grootendorst.
When I look at all these areas (and we haven’t even gone to the Potager) I think there will be enough of interest, enough to teach, enough to enjoy even for the non-gardener, but the thing I worry about is will it be neat enough. That is what we will have to worry about – getting the mowing, trimming and weeding done. Good edges on the Lawn Beds. We can do it. I know we can.