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What Our Mothers Taught Us About Gardening and Life…with Denny Schrock

I was lucky enough to spend time with Denny Schrock a  few years ago on a trip to Holland  for gardening  journalists. I quickly discovered that he is a multi-talented individual filled with curiosity, a plethora of knowledge on a wide variety of subjects, and a gentle and humble soul.

Denny has been with Meredith Publishing for 9 years. He has edited over 30 books and provides garden content for Better Home and Garden’s website and the digital edition of their magazine and has a Doctorate in Horticulture from The University of Minnesota.

He describes himself as a plant nerd with a low-maintenance landscape that features more than 1500 different perennials, trees, and shrubs on his half-acre in suburban Des Moines.

This is Denny’s story about his mother.

About what she taught him in the garden and life.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.  Fran Sorin

 Did your mother pass down any stories about herself, family members, neighbors, etc. that have to do with gardening?

My mother wasn’t much of a storyteller. I think it mostly had to do with her busy life, raising 6 children, trying to eke out a living on our farm. Mornings started for her at 6 a.m., when she would wake up the boys to go out and help Dad with morning chores. (He was up at 4:30 or 5:00 to start milking the cows.) The boys would finish the morning chores while Dad left to make the rounds with the school bus. We were the last to be picked up on the route. After school, Mom always had several piano students to give lessons to before evening chores.

mom&dad
Denny’s Mother and  Father

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What Our Mothers Taught Us About Gardening and Life

Several months ago I asked a few of my gardening friends to respond to a questionnaire. They generously agreed.

The subject: Our Moms.

It’s about the stories they’ve told us and how they’ve lived their lives, the impact they’ve had on us both in and out of the garden, and how they helped us get from there to here.

During this holiday season, I can think of no better gift for our Moms than taking the time to appreciate them. Over the next couple of weeks, you’ll be able to read the experiences of gardeners from different parts of the country….in their own words.

I hope you enjoy.

Rebecca Sweet and her mother Linda Anderson
Rebecca Sweet (shown here with her mom, Linda Anderson) is well known in the gardening world as a best selling author, prolific writer,  blogger, and a fine garden designer. You can learn more about Rebecca on her website, Harmony In The Garden and her blog, Gossip In The Garden and check out the book that she co-authored with Susan Morrison, Garden Up: Small Vertical Gardening for Large and  Small Spaces.

Did your mother pass down any stories about herself, family members, neighbors, etc. that have to do with gardening?

My mother had very fond memories of spending summer vacations on her grandmother and aunt’s peach orchard here in northern California. They had 80 acres of peaches with a river running through it, and lived in a massive Victorian home. Her summer memories are some of the fondest from her childhood. Her other set of grandparents lived nearby on many acres of almond orchards. She was a very nature-oriented child that transferred over to her adult life.

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Garden Designers at Home

In the shops now!!

I’ve got a new book out – ‘Garden Designers at Home’ – about what garden designers get up to on their home turf. Got to admit it wasn’t my idea, but the publishers’. An obvious concept really, the sort of thing which publishers (we authors grudgingly admit) are quite good at thinking up. The title and the concept kind of hint that perhaps what they do at home is completely different to the gardens which we see in magazines or garden shows – that all they have is a patch of grass with a swing for the kids and a row of cabbages. Of course, none of the ones featured in this book are like that, although in researching one designer’s public profile online I came across a scurrilous article in a British daily newspaper (one of the ‘red-top rags’ of course) which claimed that neighbours were complaining that the front garden of a well-known television gardener was full of rubbish and old beer bottles. But no-one should believe what they read in these papers anyway.
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Oh no! Visitors In The Garden…..Etiquette Of The Garden Visit

Written by Michael King

I first became aware of Michael’s work when I read the book Gardening With Grasses that he co-wrote with Piet Oudolf. It literally shifted my thinking about the composition of perennial gardens.

Michael has been living in the Netherlands for the past 20 years where he works as a garden designer, author and garden photographer. He has recently started a new blog, Perennial Meadows, which I highly recommend.

Michael has written books on flowering perennials, ornamental grasses and tulips as well as dozens of articles on a diverse range of subjects. His latest publication is a series of 6 e-books on perennial meadows.  If you’ve read any of Michael’s books and use them as resources and inspiration (as I do), this latest series of e-books won’t disappoint.  Fran Sorin

Do I really like having visitors in the garden? I certainly look forward to their arrival; rush around making sure everything is tidy, sweep the gravel paths as best I can, fill the kettle and load the coffee filter.

But then the problems begin: if they are early I notice, if they are on time, “why?” and if they are late I think I am not their day’s top priority. In truth I am not sure I really want visitors in my little world. This is the place where I am learning my craft; it is a small garden in constant flux as I dig and replant trying out ideas and learning by my mistakes. For me a few plants wrestling with each other in a corner can represent an idea for a horizon-filling perennial meadow, but the visitor sees it differently. I joke and tell them what a terrible gardener I am and that if a plant can survive with me I know it is something that is worth recommending to others – hmm.

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The Fragility of Time

It is rare after looking at a piece of art that I feel compelled to return to it, not just once but time and again. Such was the case with Ignacio Canales Aracil , a Spanish sculptor, who wanted to share his work with me. To say I was awed  by what I saw would be an understatement. The photos below are part of a series called Fragility of Time;  the sculptures are made with flowers and plants. I urge you to check out Ignacio’s website; it is rich and displays his wide range of talent.

Below is Ignaico’s description of his thoughts, the actual process of how he goes about making these delicate sculptures and the emotional impact that working with them has had on him. I am thrilled to introduce you to this talented sculptor. Fran Sorin

“The sculptures are made with flowers and plants from different gardens and
nurseries that work in collaboration with me. They allowed me to cut their
flowers and work on their premises while choosing, pressing and drying the
flowers. The sculpture number 1 in the picture has been made with flowers
from Wild About Flowers Nursery in Devon. Sculpture #2’s flowers are from Pembroke-Lodge in Richmond Park (Royal Parks). I have collaborated also with The London Garden Museum.

IGNACIO CANALES ARACIL. Sculpture Flower 1
Sculpture #1
Flowers from Wild About Flowers Nursery In Devon

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