Friday, August 3, 2012

Garden Inspiration

As you can imagine, my mind is overflowing with thoughts of flowers and gardens as we make preparations for moving to the new house at the end of the month.  I haul my camera and notebook everywhere I go, snapping shots and taking notes.

When I was a kid, my parents were avid gardeners, and they would always encourage me to dig and weed and plant along with them.  I remember the first year they gave me a small garden bed of my own.  I felt like Mary in The Secret Garden.  Of course, I planted pansies, because they looked like little people to me, and snapdragons and sweet peas.  These are still some of my favorites.

While I admire formal gardens and French parterres, I am a cottage gardener through and through, a happy practitioner of what my father-in-law calls "controlled chaos."  The more rambling and exuberant the blooms, the happier I am, and I even welcome stray wildflowers like Queen Anne's Lace to make their way into the beds.  

One of my favorite places to go for inspiration is the community garden at Gilsland farm in Falmouth.  The plots here are completely organic, and their gardeners understand the importance of planting natives like brown-eyed Susans.

I've been keeping a long list of favorites for the gardens at the new place.  Below is a list of a few of the many candidates.  Please feel free to add some of your favorite cottage garden favorites in the comments!

columbine (I plan to pilfer some from my mother's garden)
bee balm
brown-eyed Susans
foxgloves (I love growing them!)
Russian sage
roses--especially ramblers and climbers and rugosas

astilbe (for the many shady spots)
hostas, of course
wild ginger (thanks, Mum)
lady's mantle
coral bells

morning glories (the bluer the better)
day lilies

I could keep going!  These are just some of my favorites.  And you know there will be pansies and snapdragons and sweet peas tucked in, just like the old days.  For what better place to indulge one's nostalgia than in one's very own garden?  When I dig into the earth, the years fall away and I am small again, at eye level with the lilies of the valley in spring and the blue asters come fall.  And in mid-summer, I look up to see beneath the beautiful skirts of the coneflowers, towering above the rambling rock wall.  

The garden is where I go to feel ageless even as each season gives way to the next.  


  1. This is a lovely post and I can sense your excitement in making plans for your new garden. Not sure if you grow these in your area, but you might like to add -
    jasmine, nasturtium, alyssym, pansies, primulas, forget-me-nots and all of the spring bulbs.
    I'm looking forward to seeing how your garden progresses through the seasons.
    Hope you are enjoying summer and that all goes really well with your move.
    Betty (Melb)


  2. Thanks for your wonderful suggestions, Betty! Yes, many of these do grow here, and I love all of them! I keep dreaming of a carpet of forget-me-nots across the lawn especially. I can never get enough of that blue. xo

  3. Your list is perfect, all the ones I love. We have had such problems with hollyhocks and rust here, we finally pulled them out. Also tried the blue morning glories and moon flowers together this year, but no luck. Love hydrangeas mixed with with everything else too, blue of course. I always think of Tasha Tudor when I see carpets of forget-me-nots, as she had such a carpet near her house in Vermont.

    1. I love that you said that about Tasha Tudor, Marilyn, because that wonderful book about her gardens has long been one of my favorite garden-inspiration books! She was such a wonderful gardener!

      I'm sad to hear about your hollyhocks. I've only grown them once before. Hopefully they will thrive in the new space.

      Why am I not surprised that we share the same flower loves?! :)

  4. Hi Gigi,
    I teared up when I first saw the photo of your new home. It looks as though it is 'waiting' for you! Can't tell you how happy I am for you and your husband. Love your posts and this one...SO MUCH! I had my cottage garden, when we had land, and it was heaven. Sometimes, in my life back then, a garden was the only thing that made sense. Planting, getting my hands in the dirt saved me, I think. Thank goodness, for the spring! All of these flowers you have shown in your lovely photos (bliss to me) are old friends of mine. May I add some more to yours' and the other writers here? Sweet Williams, and does Lucifer's Tongue (Crocosmia)grow in Maine? And are you going to plants daffs, bluebells, grape hyacinth? The wonderful part is, the garden is always a thing in progress, so it won't have to be done tomorrow! Oh, I wish you and yours great joy in this sweet home, Gigi. Big happy hug, Robin
    Thanks for taking us with you! It's going to be fun!

    1. Oh, Robin, thanks so much for your sweet comments! I know just what you mean about getting your hands in the dirt. It is the happiest thing in the world to me.

      Thanks, too, for your suggestions. I love Sweet Williams. They will definitely make it onto my list! I don't know Lucifer's Tongue, so I just looked it up. Of course, I recognize the flower, but I didn't know it's name. It's gorgeous. I think it does grow here, and I love how gracefully it curves--plus it's a hummingbird magnet. Yay!

      I'll definitely be planting lots of spring flowers. I four a variety of daffs called Sir Winston Churchill that is gorgeous and sweetly scented. I really want to give them a try!


  5. Gorgeous summer garden scenes...and so inspiring!

  6. Oh my goodness, Gigi - what a colorful floral feast pictured here! I think you have named all the flowers I would put in my garden. I can't wait to read all about your new home and gardens as it is progressing! Happy days and hugs my friend! xxoo

  7. Oh Gigi....wonderful!!! That garden by the beautiful!
    I love herbs that are not only useful, but smell good or are pretty to look at, like peppermint, salvia, sage, alchemilla, and chamomile. Also love climbing nasturtiums, lamb's ear, and honeysuckle.
    I've missed your blog! And you!

  8. Hi Gigi,

    I think you got the list of flowers covered! In fact I am going to add some of them to my own list...

    You are probably in the throws of packing and moving, good luck!


  9. My favorite is bee balm...and it mixes well with black eyed Susans and those old fashioned rambling roses that grow all over the place:) You do have a wonderful list! Lately I've been into ferns too...whatever will grow without water.

  10. Oh my, I can just imagine, your garden will be like a dream, Gigi. Not surprisingly, our taste in gardens is unanimous, and your list just about covers it all.
    Our temperate, seaside garden here means a lot of tender things just don't survive, but I do wish I had known we'd be here this long, I would have made much more of an effort.
    A garden of my own is still a bit away, I'm afraid, even though it's something I dream of, often. For now, I will continue to be content admiring other people's gardens!


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