As the main gardener of the 1853 Jeremiah Brown House I have my work cut out for me. This house and property had been untouched for many years before my husband and I got hold of it. What to do first? Because we were living in the house, not the garden, it was the house that first got our attention, but after restoring the old house and even adding a new addition, it’s finally garden time.
Ah, a garden!
But as much as I desire lovely gardens all around the house my goal at present is simply to make the grounds appear park-like. Very few actual gardens have been created thus far, but they are in the plans. At present only the herb garden has been designed and installed. A few flowers have been added here and there – roses mostly, but new bushes appear weekly.
In fact just today five luscious-looking giant blue hydrangeas were planted at the front of the house.
My assistant gardener, Doug, deserves all the credit for the planting. He is my right hand man when it comes to digging holes and pruning.
But today I want to focus on The Secret Garden at the Jeremiah Brown House and tell you all about it thus far. At a quick glance you’d never think a Secret Garden is in the works at this property for like any good secret it’s hidden from plain view. A visitor on the grounds will notice the circular herb garden and the wall of very old and tall Spruce trees behind it, but who would guess there was the beginning of a Secret Garden behind those trees?
Around the corner one would notice the Day lilies blooming in front of very old honeysuckle bushes, but would one guess there was something more hiding behind all this?
Then there’s the row of some fifteen forsythia edging and hiding yet another side of the Secret Garden. These forsythia will grow taller and taller and hide my little secret even more in days to come.
But if you walk through the small opening here between the old trees. . .
You come upon a clearing.
This clearing is not an easy place to plant foliage because the roots of the Spruce trees are everywhere! This place will never be a proper Secret Garden with all sorts of beautiful flowers, but still the area does have potential. It’s such an interesting spot, a space left open inside a ring of giant Spruce trees. The trees create a canopy of shade. I resigned myself to forget the sun-loving flowers, and even shade-loving flowers, but still this place hidden from the rest of the grounds has potential. As long as something, anything can grow here I will call this place my Secret Garden.
The first step was setting down the stone flooring. Deer enjoyed spending their nights here before the stone was added. This space was their private bedroom, but now they found a softer, greener place elsewhere. I added some pachysandra around the edges of the stone flooring and little by little it’s getting established.
I tried adding impatience but the soil is simply too compact and root-filled to allow the impatience to stretch out and get comfortable here. Too bad. Color would be nice in this secret garden. I suppose I could add pots of impatience here and there. . . maybe one day, but for now I’ve decided to let the garden operate on automatic pilot. It’s not doing a bad job of it either.
I’ve put Mother Nature in charge of this Secret Garden for the time being and one plant she really seems to love is Wild Ginger. At least I think this plant is known by that name. I too like Wild Ginger with its glossy rounded leaves. This plant serves as a very pretty ground cover and to my delight rabbits do not eat it. This is important because the grounds of the Jeremiah Brown House are home to many rabbits.
I marvel the way Mother Nature will successfully cultivate the plants she wants to grow where as I try and try to cultivate certain other plants with no luck at all. Look at the way she’s going to town with tiny baby plants. They’re everywhere! In time I may drop the name “Secret Garden” and call this place “The Wild Ginger Garden”.
Of course it’s not only Wild Ginger that Mother Nature is providing for my Secret Garden, look at these mysterious plants which magically appeared while I was away for the weekend. Nothing. . . then suddenly all this green . . . I must dig out my wildflower guide book and try to identify this plant. Whatever it is, I like it! Why should I bother toiling away buying and planting expensive specimens when Mother Nature will not only supply the plants for free but also install them?
Of course in the past I have bothered to purchase and plant a few items, two of them are Lamium Maculatum (Red Nancy) as well as the tiny yellow-green ground cover you see here. (I’ve forgotten its name. Do you recognize it?) These two plants seem to be happy in this place. They’re taking off, getting along well with the pachysandra and the other wild plants. I’ll do no more of my own planting, at least not for a while. I’m leaving the planting to Mother Nature. She has been known to create beautiful work as you well know so maybe she’ll do the same here for me.
I have had fun adding bird houses to some of the trees in The Secret Garden. This is something Mother Nature can’t do. I think the birdies like these houses as I do. The houses stay up year round, for after all, birds need a home in the Winter too.
And sculpture adds a nice touch to all the greenery. A little cherub here . . .
My wonderful “dead friend”, Saint Francis, there . . .
Other bits of statuary are waiting to be moved into The Secret Garden too as soon as Doug or some other muscle-bound fellow happens by.
Rocks are welcome here, nice big ones. These rocks you see are just a few that came from an old abandoned well on the property. They spent more than a hundred years under ground, but now they can enjoy the next hundred years above ground in this place.
My Secret Garden is in the early stages of development. You are witness to its beginning. I wish I could fast forward to show both of us a more mature version of it. Patience is a virtue needed in gardening and that’s something money can’t always buy. The garden teaches us patience. But there is delight, at least for me, in the anticipation of what’s to come. There’s pleasure even in the beginning stages of a garden project. I come to this garden daily, carefully checking for any change I might see. This is something I remember my father doing in his garden. I simply enjoy the moment – what is – and I appreciate the potential of what this garden can become.
Whether I sit here alone to read . . . meditate to music of the birdies . . . whether I invite friends over to share a cup of tea in this my Secret Place . . . whatever I’m doing here I’m happy. That’s nature for you.
Be it ever so humble there’s no place quite like my Secret Garden.