Down the garden a plant lover's paradise

Rex Whistler illustration

What type of gardener are you? 
Are you a dirt gardener, one who loves 
the earthy scent of freshly tilled soil,
one who can't wait to dig in?
Do you don the gardening gloves or
do you like to go "au naturel"?

When fresh compost is laid on your garden
beds are you quite happy to pull up a chair
and chant "grow, baby, grow?"


Are you happy to direct and admire
and then chant "grow, baby, grow?"

Do you have a few gardening books
or could you fill an adjunct to your local library
with your collection?

Me? I love the soil, prefer to work with my hands, DO NOT love the scent of compost, and my chant is more in line with "where did I put those clippers?" I have thirty years worth of gardening spread between two countries and if you asked me to name an ordinary house plant I would look at you in dismay and whip out my IPhone to consult Google. 

In Vietnam I direct and admire. I tried to dig in the garden long ago but language and looks of exasperation from our gardener quickly put an end to my attempts. I also preferred not to touch and feel the local snakes weaving their way around our garden. In Vietnam, I definitely prefer to direct and admire.

Andre Jordan illustration via

In New Hampshire, at Tahilla Farm, I relish the thought of getting back into the garden (54 days and counting). Sure I make mistakes, plenty of them, but who cares? We live in the woods. Who is going to see?  I know that one day...I will get there. 

Am I a keen gardener? 
Do I know what I am doing? 
Do I wish I knew what I was doing? 
If only...

Under their Kousa dogwood and 'Bloodgood' Japanese maple in the front garden, Joe Valentine and Paula Hunter planted nepeta 'Walker's Low', ferns, hosts, coneflowers, boxwood and miscanthus 'Morning Light'.
Photo by Joe Valentine

Last summer, I offered to help friends, Joe Valentine and Paula Hunter of Juniper Hill Farm, with their beautiful garden in preparation of the Garden Conservancy Open Day program. I was delighted when they said yes.  Over the few days that I clipped, weeded, raked and hauled..I realised there is A LOT of work to maintaining a garden. Gardening is a true calling, it is a passion, it is a labour of love...or it can be the biggest pain in the back and neck you ever had. Sweat, dirt, flies, worms, thorns and more have to ask yourself (and I did, frequently) if this is the stuff that life is made of.  Did I really want to live in a farmhouse, in the country with all these flies and chant "grow, baby, grow" to the whiff of compost in my own garden?  

Andre Jordan illustration via

Why would I ask myself such a silly question, of course I do! I have two extremely talented gardening friends in Joe and Paula.  Joe advised me to have patience and Paula suggested that if it does not work, I can always start again. I like the way they think....I  am all for learning by example. ;)

A Garden is a grand teacher. 
It teaches patience and careful watchfuless:
 it teaches industry and thrift; 
above all it teaches entire trust.  
Gertrude Jekyll

Clipped boxwood balls on the right and dwarf Thuja occidentallis 'Hetz Midget' on the left in front of 'the great wall' line with the peastone path that leads to the terrace at teh rear of the house.
Photo by Joe Valentine

I am also thrilled for Joe and Paula and the wonderful feature of their gardens in this months issue of New Hampshire Home magazine. The article,  CREATING A PLANT-LOVER'S PARADISE is a must read for gardening enthusiasts! I can tell you from experience as both a happy wanderer and willing weed puller that this is a garden to love. I love the notion of garden rooms and there are plenty to enjoy in their two acres of gardens... a lilac garden, shade garden, zen garden, faun garden, Japanese garden, hedged garden, sitting garden, wildflower garden, a stumpery garden and even a garden for the garden shed. Oh...and a beautiful frog pond and more and more. It is a marvel, truly.  The article will fill you in on the details, it is a delight to read. Be sure to have a pen and notebook handy. 

This swath of blue flag iris came with the farm. Growing naturally in a low spot,
they marked the perfect location for the new frog pond.
Photo by Joe Valentine

Everything that slows us down and forces patience, 
everything that sets us back 
into the slow circles of nature is a help. 
Gardening is an instrument of grace. 
May Sarton

A few of Joe and Paula's
recommended garden links 
more links 

Collage of Life 
gardening posts

One for the gardening book shelf...

by Beverley Nichols 

For more on Beverley Nichols, read here

How about you?
Are you a gardener?
A dirt gardener or do you prefer to direct and admire?
Do you have any gardening links you would like to share?
Favouite gardening books?
Would love to know!

Andre Jordan illustration via 

Jeanne xx


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