Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My Garden (for those of you who are starting to doubt that it exists....)

"Though an old man, I am but a young gardener."

~Thomas Jefferson

(Bless you, Mr. Jefferson, for ever having said that!)

I have had a curious experience in moving to Vermont. I was raised in Pasadena, California (a.k.a. Los Angeles). Clearly, I am a city girl - simply meaning that, our neighbors who canned their own jars of jam were viewed as a bit out of the ordinary when it came to their skill with those romanticized and mysterious types of homemaking abilities that are often associated, for some reason, with living in the country. My parent's provided a wonderfully homey home to grow up in and I was raised to practice the art of hospitality. However, when I moved out here to start a tea room, eighteen years ago, I think that I was the only one surprised. It didn't even phase my friends that I had never simmered a pot of soup nor witnessed how yeast could puffer-fish the dough in my very own loaf of bread. I was, however, extremely gifted in the area of chocolate chip cookie production and, I think that my friends thought that I couldn't possibly have any problem making the small leap to those more refined areas of the culinary arts. Further still, apparently, they had boundless faith that I had the innate skills of a homemaker in every way. Well, at least they were close: I do have the desire to be one. It's been a long road!

Speaking of gardening and idealized, country homemaking....even more curious was the fact that, until a few months before my move, I had never even heard of a 'perennial'. In the desert climate of  Southern California, the tradition is to go to the nursery and buy annuals - there was never any mention of perennials! In the dream that my tea room would have the most wonderful country cottage garden, I'd bought a book that looked promisingly helpful and heard, for the first time, of exotic plants like phlox and hollyhocks! (For those of you from California,  and who might be as lost about this as I was, those are very common perennials - yes, they are!) I thought that I'd never learn it all!

I began chipping away at the stone-studded dirt of VT and, so, also, began my adventures in gardening. There's been a lot of growth.

When we moved to our new home, here, up on the hill, I was forced to take a three year gardening break. There were pipes and wires to be laid, right where the garden was going to be. My plants languished at the old parsonage until we could catch up with our projects. You can see how it was going just last year if you quickly blip over to this post.

It's strange how much the seasons in the garden had become part of the routine of my life. I was lost without my garden! It's not June unless there are roses and, who knows when school is about to start without phlox?! The only marker, of this sort, that we had, were some ancient and gnarled old apple trees and a very glorious, long hedge of lilacs (lilacs = mother's day). Finally, when the stone wall was completed in September, I began preparing the soil and moving the plants. Things were either dormant or near death because of a terrible drought and I waited with no idea what would survive, this year, or what it would look like.

Spring is always a miracle but, this year, it felt like a garden that had been secretly hidden, all this time, magically appeared from no where!

The learning and upward toil pays off more and more, every year. The flowering bulbs, planted 'en masse', were a joy and so was the 'poultry with figs and bleu cheese' that was very much enjoyed around a warm family table, this past spring. I love loving home.... now, if it was only a bit more tidy and orderly.... sigh!

To be continued....


  1. Hello Katy:
    How delightfully this reads and we love the description of your own childhood home and upbringing in a different part of the country and, since your move to your present home, the long, upward learning curve where gardening is concerned.

    Having gardened, quite seriously at times(!!), and written a dozen or more books on the subject, over twenty-five years, in our experience nothing, but nothing, beats a 'hands on' approach as a way of learning - something which you are clearly doing and enjoying. And, yes, there will always be failures but these are, most often, matched with successes.

    From what you write you obviously have your work cut out but are definitely, as your pictures show, making substantial progress. The fun lies in the journey, rather than the destination! Have a lovely day.

  2. I like your gardeb beautiful,,,enjoy your day love from

  3. Dear Katy,

    Such a beautiful post! I enjoyed reading the story of your garden very much. I can remember your post from last year, when Tom was moving the stones around. How beautiful it all looks. The daffodils in the flower bed, the multicolour tulips along your drive. You must be very happy with the way it looked. Like you I am a novice gardener too. I make lots of mistakes, but keep on learning :-) When I look at your photo's I think you made a flashing start!

    Your table is very pretty too. I think we are very much alike. We both love making things look beautiful :-).

    Wish you a happy day!

    Madelief x

  4. Katy, this is such a lovely read. From the first quote onwards I was held in anticipation. You have created a most lovely spring garden of colourful tulips and beautiful lilacs.

    Your's and Tom's hard work is certainly paying off big time - I do remember your post when Tom was hauling the stones into place! The terrace is looking wonderful now and will be a joy in all seasons.

    I am relatively new to gardening too - being brought up, and spending a good deal of my adult life in London apartments with nothing more than a few window boxes (!), when I moved here to the country it felt so natural - like coming home really ...

    Have a lovely day!


  5. Your garden looks such a beautiful, peaceful place unlike mine at the moment which can only be descibed as a mudbath!! At this very moment a digger is tearing a lot of mine up to level it and create a larger patio area over the marshy wet bit. It will be worth it in the end....I hope!! Cx

  6. I am so glad you are finding words again. You seem to be able to express more in a brief paragraph or two then most people can in a days worth of chatter. Your thoughts and photos are full of weight. Diane

  7. And what a beautiful garden it is dearest Katy! I am afraid mine is looking a little sad these days. Not enough rain nor not enough watering from me. On the plus side, another couple of weeks and we will be heading into fall and then my garden will be expected to look the way it does. ;)

    Happy Weekend friend!

    xo Catherine

  8. Absolutely stunning photos, Katy Noelle. Your garden is beautiful! And thank you for visiting me.

  9. Thank you for visiting my blog and for your kind comment. Your garden looks to be coming along fabulously. I have been quite seriously interested in gardening for nearly 20 years but I am still learning with trying to create my new garden high in the hills in Wales with not much soil! At the moment I am feeling somewhat overwhelmed with creeping buttercup. I think I just need a few days of actually getting out there getting my hands dirty!

  10. i love both the city and rural living. but i think i am happiest when i am somewhere quiet, away from the hustle and bustle and the noise. i dream of a quiet simple life, living off the land. sigh... maybe one day.

  11. Dear Katy, I never doubted for a moment :0) Lovely place, surely a reflection of a lovely lady. Thank you for your words. Your visits do brighten my days so! Hugs and wishes for a magical day XO


Short and witty, long and heartfelt, just a blip to say hello - I love all of your comments! Feel free ...