“We must cultivate our garden.” —-Voltaire
As main gardener of the 1853 Jeremiah Brown House I feel the same way as Voltaire. I must cultivate. I must work with nature to create a parklike setting for this old house.
When I first came upon this house and property both were badly neglected, vacant for quite some time, but what possibility I saw here. The old house and its grounds were sad and alone. They needed a friend. I was that friend. Not many would want to take on such a project, but I love old houses and gardens too, but where to start? A few things were done on the grounds right away, but work on the house came first – renovation, decoration and then an addition. Finally it was time to begin real work on the grounds and I’ve been working on them ever since.
It’s slow going, for as you know I wear quite a few hats here at the Jeremiah Brown House. I’m gardener yes, but also innkeeper, inn cook, inn maid, and much of the time, (thank goodness) inn guest and though all my roles are fun, the role of inn guest is truly best for it’s when I can enjoy all the work that’s been done around here and simply be in a place I’ve come to love.
But today I write as inn gardener. not my other roles. I’ll focus on plants, flowers, garden accomplishments and future projects. Flowers! Don’t you love them? I see these flowers from outside and inside as I work at my kitchen sink thanks to the flower boxes. Double pleasure.
These days instead of planting an herb garden I simply potted up a few favorites near the kitchen porch for easy access. In the past heavy rains would sometimes waterlog my herbs so this works better for me though I do have some mint, chives and lemon verbena remaining in the circle that used to be the herb garden. They are much too established there and they just wouldn’t leave that spot.
This is the circle I speak of. When we bought this house and property the circle contained an old diseased apple tree and a jumble of perennials and weeds. It all had to go. A number of things were tried here, but finally I think I got it right. Now the circle has in its center a very old boxwood that was moved from another spot. A formal design of boxwood, fragrant roses, fennel and tree hydrangeas fill the space. In Spring a variety of bulbs also make this circle their home.
I open my door and I’m greeted by these beauties every day. They are a joy. I love, love, love scented roses. Research suggests that smelling fresh roses activates the body’s relaxing parasympathetic nervous system so they’re not only beautiful to look at they also help you relax and feel good..
Here you see the feathery fennel which encircles the center boxwood. There are also large stones set in a spike-like fashion. You see I must bundle up the daffodil leaves. That’s a job on my list for future gardener days.
There’s a lot to water on these two and a half acres. Sometimes God helps me as he did a few minutes ago, but when I’m the one doing the watering I’m glad we have a sistern on the property for free water My clever husband hooked up an old pump (which was attached to a well we no longer have) and with a hose connected to the sistern and an electrified switch (however did he do that?) I now just turn the switch and water flows. It’s GREAT!
Before we added the addition to the house there was an old flagstone patio and on that patio was the well I spoke of. The pump was no longer connected and the well was dry. It was taken apart – very interesting. Huge stones held the well together. I guess the clay soil with the rocks were enough to keep the water in place. Anyway, it’s great we’re able to use the original pump for a new purpose.
When we first moved here there was no stone base in this area, only grass. We’d find a family of deer sleeping in this spot and why not? It’s very private from the rest of the grounds. Huge, ancient trees create a circle around this open area.. I decided to create a secret garden here. Of course the roots in this area are incredible, but mother nature is helping me construct a cool oasis using various ground covers. I slipped in some Japanese anemones and hosta, a few bulbs and fern.
I’ve added a mock orange at the other end of the secret garden, bamboo and a row of lenten roses.
I do love the dark glossy leaves of wild ginger. It moved into the secret garden on its own, but I am happy to have it and I must say, it’s multiplying like a family of rabbits. Ok by me. It’s time to weed and trim the grass in this area as you can see.
Near the secret garden is the outbuilding. I recently weeded the brick path to this building but as you can see the daylilies are growing into the path. Not good. The lillies should start blooing soon. I’ve sprayed them with deer repellant so they should be safe. We do have deer issues and that’s why I have no vegetable garden.
I do have a rock garden though. These rocks were some of the ones lining the old well. Now they can see the sun. This little garden sits beneath black walnut trees. As you may know there aren’t a lot of plants that can live beneath these trees. I learned this by trial and error, but finally learned coral bells and astilbe do fine in this spot.
I love how coral bells come in different colors and I’m so happy I finally found a plant or two that can live beneath these black walnut trees.
This bell used to be on the old patio near the old well. When we did our addition it had to move so our lovely Amish builders found this great old beam and mounted it in our rock garden. I was told by a gal who used to stay at the Jeremiah Brown house years ago when she visited her grandparents that the bell would be rung when she was ice skating at a pond way at the other end of the property. This bell does have a powerful toll. Kids who visit here just love, love, love to ring it. I’m happy it has a place of honor on the grounds.
I’m always looking for statuary for the grounds. I showed you the angel in the secret garden. There’s a rabbit in the circle but he’s hiding under the fennel. I have another angel and here she is. The boxwood loves her.
I think I’ll need to go out with my clippers or soon she will disappear completely behind the boxwood. Actually it’s time to clip all the boxwood.
And here is a little more statuary. I think it looks nice from afar with boxwood and bulbs amidst all the green bushes behind it..
But now let me tell you about a project I am getting ready to begin.
You see the rock garden and beyond it the new patio
If I come out for morning coffee in my nightgown I can see walkers and they can see me. Nice to see people, but now always. My next project will be adding flowering bushes and assorted perennials around the existing boxwood that bloom in three different seasons. This is a tiny little space designed for two people at a time – tea for two, cocktails for two, dinner for two. When more people are invited there are other spaces available to them.
Rather than look out at a wall of greenery as pleasant as that can be, I would much rather look out at flowering plants creating an intimate garden room. This is the plan – to create this intimate garden room. The next step for me, inn gardener, is to purchase the plants and supervise the placing of these plants. I can’t wait to see this materialize. I’ll be sure to show you when it’s finished. Like I always say, sharing doubles the joy.
Sir George Sitwell wrote Essay on the making of gardens in 1909. In this work he wrote, “to make a great garden, one must have a great idea or a great opportunity.” The abandoned grounds around the Jeremiah Brown house have given me a great opportunity to enjoy working with nature in order to try creating grounds that are lovely. As the inn gardener here the work will go on and on and on and that is just what gardening is, going on and on and on.
To be continued on the next Country Inn Gardener’s day.