“It is a natural consequence that those who cannot taste the actual fruition of a garden should take the greater delight in reading about one. But the enjoyment next below actual possession seems to be derived from writing on the topic.”
QUARTERLY REVIEW ( 1851)
And so, when I’m not weeding, pruning, mulching or planting, I, the inn gardener, delight in photographing and writing about the goings on around the grounds of our country inn of imagination.
I was thinking about what Sir George Sitwell wrote in his ESSAY ON THE MAKING OF GARDENS back in 1909. He wrote “To make a great garden, one must have a great idea or a great opportunity.” Well, I do have a great opportunity here for the grounds are blessed with very mature trees and shrubs. Such materials formed over time are precious and create a foundation that is worth its weight in gold for any gardener. There are tall trees and evergreens shielding the front yard from the street.
There are lovely old trees edging the driveway
The entire perimeter of the grounds are edged by tall trees of one sort or another.
Other trees edge the circular drive, the drive which surrounds the herb garden found in its middle. The trees also help keep the secret garden behind them a real secret.
The early owners of this 1853 property (the first being Jeremiah Brown, brother of John Brown , the abolitionist) obviously loved trees and people for they planted all sorts of trees in all sorts of places.
“He that plants trees loves others besides himself.”
In the picture below you see black walnut trees at the edge of the driveway and you don’t want to sit below these trees nor park your car under them when their nuts begin to fall. They fall with conviction. Closer to the house there are two river birch. They do well there because it’s a low area and rather wet.
I like our trees. No, I love our trees, for they are no work for me at all, well, maybe a bit of work when the leaves begin to fall in Autumn, but as Willa Cather said, “They seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do.”
And when Spring arrives and the leaves of all the trees begin to form, it’s like magic! – hundreds of tiny specks materializing before our eyes. If you were to try to paint a picture with such detail you would realize just how wonderful and artful trees really are. Then Summer comes and trees are in their full glory.
“Of all the wonders of nature, a tree in summer is perhaps the most remarkable; with the possible exception of a moose singing “Embraceable You” in spats.”
Woody Allen (1935- )
When I first set my eyes on this property I thought it looked a lot like an arboretum. So many different kinds of trees Some are very big and others are quite small like the fringe tree.
And it only seems right that we add more trees of our own to this property, so after seeing a dwarf Japanese willow at a friend’s garden with its very white leaves which only gradually turn to green, it was decided to make this tree the centerpiece of the inn herb garden.
Maturity has value in people and in gardens. It’s worth a lot. I was pricing small boxwood plants recently and was amazed at their prices. $40 would only buy a very small plant. I therefore couldn’t help but wonder how much one of the inn’s 5 to 6 foot boxwood plants would summon if they could be transplanted.
I, as inn gardener, may have my work cut out for me. So much to weed, prune, plant, and redesign. There are times I am quite overwhelmed. But if I focus on the job at hand, enjoying it, and if I count the blessings of what already exists in this garden – namely the mature bushes and trees, I feel quite contented and joyful for I have something here and now that even Thomas Jefferson would have killed for…
“I never before knew the full value of trees. My house is entirely embosomed in big plane trees, with good grass below, and under them I breakfast, dine, write, read, and receive company. What would I not give that the trees planted nearest round the house at Monticello were full grown.”
JEFFERSON TO MARTHA JEFFERSON RANDOLPH ( 1793)