The Roving Gardener
No Summer is Complete Without Visiting a Gorgeous Garden!
Whether or not you have a garden of your own, may I suggest a perfect summer pastime is to spend time in an exquisite garden that somebody else has created! And here in the North Country--from New York and New England to eastern Canada-- so many opportunities are yours to discover.
Indeed, since we moved to Vermont over twenty years ago, Dick and I have visited dozens of these gardens together. Join us as, in words (mine) and pictures (Dick's), for a tour of north country gardens, from the familiar to the unrecognized.
From grand designs to hidden gems
Some gardens are stately affairs, often with storied histories. Maintained by professional staff, they are open to the public throughout the season. Typically stretching across multiple acres, you should allow at least half a day to do them justice.
But, tucked away off the beaten path, there are many smaller garden treasures that await our discovery. Many are the culmination of a passionate love affair between the individual gardener (oftentimes a nursery owner or garden designer) and his or her unique garden. These are highly personal places and, while they may be open for the casual visitor, it is oftentimes on a limited schedule. So check before you drive!
And finally there are a number of dedicated gardeners, such as the author, Gordon Haywood and his wife, Mary, who live in Westminster, Vermont, and who generously open their private gardens for a just single day, perhaps to support a charity or for a special group visit. These are very special one-time opportunities to seek out and not to miss!
Great gardens are for everybody!
Everyone knows that both artists and non-artists alike derive enormous satisfaction from beautiful paintings. But somehow many people think great gardens will primarily appeal to gardeners. Nothing could be further from the truth.
To be sure, when they visit a great garden, gardeners will get both inspiration and knowledge to apply back home. But all of us derive great pleasure from just being in a beautiful place and feeling its artistic creation.
iSome of my most cherished memories are the many happy hours I spent with my mother at the magnificent garden at Sissinghurst (about 20 miles from our home in southeast England). Here we would wander through the different garden spaces, embrace the sights and smells of growing things and, all the while, chat together about who knows what!
As a teenager, at that point in my life I had no interest whatsoever in actual gardening Nothing could persuade me to dig the earth, followed by an interminable wait for the flowers or vegetables to mature. But, despite my apathy towards physical gardening, those ‘garden days’ with my mother were cherished times to savor forever.
Today Dick and I both relish all our garden explorations--from the private sanctuaries of individual gardeners to the grand creations of yesteryear-- for everything they have to offer. While Dick is no gardener, he is a photographer who finds beauty wherever he goes. And, although I may carry a small camera to record the name of the occasional plant, mainly I go for the thrill of experiencing the serenity that only a lovely garden can offer.
Old friends and new faces
In the pages that follow I describe a treasure trove of great gardens (mostly within a day's drive of Vermont) and some of the history that makes each one even more special.
You will find old friends--gardens you may have enjoyed in the past--as well as new places to visit in the future.
I have included plenty of pictures. Just double click on any image to enlarge. So, even if you cannot visit a particular garden in person, you can savor it as an 'armchair gardener'.
Often two gardens can be visited together, in a single outing, providing an opportunity to compare style and implementation.
Stockbridge is a garden lovers paradise with a major botanical garden as well as three historic gardens within a five mile radius