Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sweet Dreams

"Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities.   Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning."   Gloria Steinem

There is nothing like a grey, drizzly day and disrupted gardening bliss to set a gardener pondering -- at least, this gardener!  I looked out the windows thinking of all of the work that I wasn't accomplishing and fretting over areas that need improving.  I suddenly decided that my gardening education needed expanding immediately!

I have been enjoying a wonderful book recommended by Helen, The Patient Gardener (  It's called "Succession Planting for Year-Round Pleasure", by Christopher Lloyd.  Featuring his gardens at Great Dixter in Sussex, it's a book with wonderful, informative, enthusiastic text and gorgeous photos. 

I started thinking about the many famous English gardens and then about various gardening styles and then onto famous landscape architects and finally the history of gardening.  It seemed rather a lot to learn in one afternoon.   I googled frantically, noting articles that went as far back as ancient Persia, China, Japan, Egypt. . . .  Somewhere  I saw something about the "forest garden" of primitive man and concluded that it did not suit my purpose to go that far back.  But certainly my own garden would benefit if I knew a little more.

I zipped around the internet and virtual globe as I pleased, concentrating mostly on gardens in England, France, and Italy.  I looked at gardens and grounds designed by William Kent, Capability Brown, LeNotre, and Niccolo Tribolo, amongst many others.  I made what was for me a wonderful discovery, a selection of videos by Monty Don.  Why had no one ever mentioned him to me before?  His series "Around the World in 80 Gardens" is great -- so interesting and fun! 

I came to another conclusion.  While I admire the formal gardens of Italy and France with their  sculptured hedges, fountains, grottos, and perfect symmetry, I still really love the various English gardening styles.  Considering that I had spent a few hours drooling over the gardens of palaces, castles, and public parks, I would have to whittle my expectations down a bit.  Blenheim Palace, Sissinghurst Castle, and Rousham are all amazing, but, well, ha, whittle, whittle.  Then I virtually visited Gertrude Jekyll's garden at the Manor House, Upton Grey.  The garden is just over four acres, the size of our whole property, but that's a lot closer in size than the others!  I would only want to work on certain elements. . . .

So, can I turn this:
or this:
into this? 
File:Jekyll Manor House Border.jpg
 (photo by Aquilineyes at Wikimedia Commons)
No one is expected to answer that question!  But the above is similar to some of those beautiful beds at Christopher Lloyd's Great Dixter.   I now know what I want:  English borders!
I shall certainly leave my new, baby hedgerow in peace for now.  But there is that whole other side, that whole other length of fence that could really use a hedge or, dare I say, a modest "herbaceous border'.  I don't know if I really have enough space, but I shall investigate my options.  I cannot say for sure that anything towards my goal shall be accomplished before summer comes and goes.  Of course, I can't say for sure that it won't, either.  Let's be reasonable.  But I shall continue to study and, of course, to garden.  I will share a litte of what I learn, too, and hope you will pardon me if it's old news to you.  It's all just so wonderful and fascinating.
Here is a link to a nice website about the garden at the Manor House, Upton Grey:
I hope that we all enjoy clear skies this coming weekend!  I have weeds to pull, spent blooms to nip, and plants to plant!  In the meantime, I am not quite finished with Monty.   :)

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