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Picture This Photo Contest: May Winner

Though we didn’t quite match last month’s many entries in May’s Picture This contest–perhaps because container season is not yet in full swing for many of us (hint: dip in last year’s files)—some fine photos surfaced nonetheless. It was nip and tuck for first place, but I have to give the edge to… Continue Reading →

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On The Edge


I’ve gotten a lot of inspiring ideas and great garden techniques from Sydney Eddison over the years. She’s given me all kinds of ways to use color, combine plants  and minimize garden maintenance. But one of her best ideas was also the simplest. Once when I was fretting about a garden Open Day, she said to just make sure the edges are crisp. “If the edges look good,” she said, “you can get away with a multitude of sins.” And you know what? She’s right. It doesn’t even have to be any kind of traditional edge, as her margin of lamb’s ears shows. Continue Reading →

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One Big Thing


I wish I could say that my garden evolved to its present state thanks to some grand design. But it hasn’t. Oh, we began with a few basic concepts, but for the most part it has grown by equal parts hit-or-miss, with some trowel-and-error thrown in. Its driving force has been, more than anything else, a spirit of invention. That has meant a lot of changes over the years, as once-hazy, half-recognized notions took more solid form. Garden rooms, for example, seemed totally abstract at first–I could understand the idea, but had no clue how to make one. Same with structure. I grasped its value, but was unsure how to proceed–until I tried approaching from it a different angle. That’s when I started trying ONE BIG THING. Continue Reading →

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Gardening and the Gods


Every morning I greet my garden with joy. It’s a delight to know my beds and borders are out there, awaiting me. We kind of rely on each other. Gardening is, after all, a faith-based initiative. Without faith in the future, or at least hope, how can I battle drought, rain, early frosts (or late ones), bugs, critters, and the whole array of obstacles that stand between the present moment and the eventual garden of my dreams? As a gardener, I’m thinking long term. I plant little whips of trees, even grow some from seed.  I nurture fledgling shrubs 6-inches tall, and plant perennials that won’t mature for quite a while. In the fullness of time, they’ll match the vision in my mind’s eye. It’s a slow process. Sometimes, actually more often than I’d care to really consider, it takes years to develop a new area, or to bring harmony to even a fraction of my overall design. Even my abundant garden purchases are based on that same gradual, evolutionary scale: a few dollars here and a few there, but it all adds up.  That elongating time line doesn’t bother me; I rarely even consider it. I simply assume tomorrow will bring a new day, and a new step forward. But what if it doesn’t? Continue Reading →

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The Beauty of Bones

This is the first installment of Design Lines, a new GGW monthly column devoted to exploring the role of structure in garden design.


At the Sunken Garden, it’s all about the lines. I often stroll through grounds of the Hill–Stead, a manse turned museum not far from where I live. The main reason I head in that direction is to look in on its Sunken Garden, a gem designed, back in the day, by Beatrix Farrand. Depending on the season, I might gaze upon its carefully wrought color combinations, its fraternity of plants, and the welcoming refuge of its pavilion. But for me the real splendor of the Sunken Garden’s design lies in its geometry. Continue Reading →

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