About Judith Irven:
I am a life-long gardener, garden writer and landscape designer. I live with photographer husband, Dick Conrad, in Goshen, Vermont (on the western slopes of the Green Mountains) in an old farmhouse surrounded by our extensive gardens.
I grew up in rural England, before relocating to study physics at London University’s Imperial College. After acquiring my B.Sc and M.Phil degrees, I then immigrated to New Jersey and for the next twenty years worked for Bell Labs and later for Bellcore as a telecommunications systems engineer.
Then in 1994 my life’s trajectory changed! Dick and I moved to Goshen and I went ‘back to school’ to study landscape design at Vermont Technical College.
Since then I have been a landscape design consultant with my own business, Outdoor Spaces Landscape Designs, helping my many clients plan and develop their individual properties, both small and large.
I give talks to organizations around the state, and for the past seventeen years I have been teaching ‘Sustainable Home Landscaping’ as part of the UVM Extension’s Master Gardener course.
I also write a regular gardening column for the Addison Independent and the Vermont Country Sampler newspapers, and I have also had articles published in Horticulture magazine.
A New England gardener with old English roots
My love affair with gardens was kindled at an early age, as I roamed through the grand public gardens in Britain, and dreamed of a scaled-down but still impossibly-elegant garden of my own.
Growing up in England
A personal garden, oftentimes small but always satisfying, has been a constant force in my life. My parents always had a flower garden and a productive vegetable garden, supplemented in the early days by a goodly number of chickens and ducks. We would also visit other gardens, some quite magnificent. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of going with my mother to Vita Sackville West’s famous Sissinghurst Gardens near our home in Kent.
Urban and suburban garden making
My own ‘first garden’, was a simple row of vegetables alongside the wash-line in the communal garden below our London ‘flat’. At the time I was a graduate student with a very young baby and (unbeknown to anyone) also pregnant with twins,
I came to America in 1966 with a freshly minted academic background in physics and three very young children. For almost thirty years I juggled mothering and homemaking with the demands of a high tech job in suburban New Jersey. And at each place I lived I made a small garden!!
A new life in Vermont
In 1994 Dick and I gratefully left the hubbub of suburbia, to start life anew in the peaceful mountains of Vermont. We live in an old farmhouse with a view westwards to our local Mount Moosalamoo, and beyond to the Adirondack Mountains in New York state. Since coming to Vermont we have gradually created an expansive garden, both for food and for pleasure. While our winters are cold and snowy and on occasion the thermometer may dip below -20℉ (that’s about -30℃), our summers are warm with generous rain. What more could a gardener ask?.
For eleven years we also ran a busy Bed and Breakfast, appropriately called Judith’s Garden. We no longer run the B&B, but we still live in the same farmhouse, along with two finicky felines, all the while nurturing our garden-of-lifetime.
About Dick Conrad:
Garden and landscape photographer
.And last but by no means least, I want to acknowledge my husband Dick. He is a skilled landscape and garden photographer in his own right and the genesis of many photographs you will see in North Country Reflections. His photographs add immeasurably to any writing I do. Thank you Dick!!
Pay a visit to North Country Impressions where you can see many more of his pictures, both gardens and of Vermont landscapes.
I also want to thank him from the bottom of my heart for his support and encouragement over the last twenty-five years. Without Dick at my side I would never have achieved anything like this with the second half of my life.