365 days

“Nothing lasts.”  That might sound pessimistic to the average bear but to a gardener it’s a liberating, life affirming and exciting truth.

Yesterday a lucky group of gardeners and Blithewold supporters had the pleasure of listening to and laughing with Margaret Roach (former editor of Martha Stewart Magazine) as she talked about 365 days of gardening on her property in the Berkshires.  She showed slides of her garden’s transformation from a steep hillside populated with fallingdown outbuildings and plastic lawn furniture to a steep hillside of gorgeous gardens, meadow and fabulous mountain views.  We were treated to full disclosure of hilarious rookie mistakes, tragic losses, happy accidents and sublime moments – what gardening is all about.  Margaret encouraged us to defy “conventional wisdom” whenever our gardens require us to be more creative.  Question authority (even when the authority is Martha Stewart)!  Be willing to learn from and laugh at the mistakes you make along the way.  And suffer the failures and losses with the hope and optimism of fresh opportunity (new plants!).

Margaret also gently chided us for saying “the season has ended”.  For her, and you can read her philosophy on her blog A Way to Garden, the garden year begins with “conception” and continues through to “senescence” and death.  Nothing lasts – but the whole process is precious.  To ignore or deny the truth and beauty of the garden’s decline is to miss part of the point of gardening – as much as denying a bud in spring.  We gardeners know it’s true and yet it’s a good reminder to hear a kindred spirit say it out loud.  Maybe don’t be in such a rush to clean up, she says and enjoy the fade.  And even if you’re like me – ready for a break, inclined to be indoors when it’s cold out – go back outside – in your p.j.s if that’s what you’re wearing, and take another look at the garden.

This year’s Garden Design Luncheon was a roaring sold out success – everyone involved with organizing it did a fabulous job – and I overheard all sorts of buzzing about how wonderful Margaret’s talk was.  For me, the day was extra special:  Not only did I have the honor of walking around Blithewold with Margaret (sadly, the frogs were chilly and anti-social), but I also sat in the fun-seat next to Layanee and her friend Lois at lunch (it was like being at the kid’s table).  Layanee promoted the luncheon on her radio show (The Garden Guys – and Gal), gave away tickets and also took the beautiful portrait of Margaret shown above.  Thank you, Layanee!

In honor of Margaret’s visit, for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day (hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens), here are some of mid-November’s gray hairs at Blithewold:

What’s growing old in your garden?

9 thoughts on “365 days

  1. Thanks to you for the wonderful tour yesterday, the great reception…and now this post. Oh, and the TERRARIUM. I think we need to do a cross-blog terrarium thing; a great winter subject!

    My pleasure, Margaret – truly! And that’s a perfect idea – you know I’m always ready to make more terrariums… -kris

  2. Kris, It sounds like a wonderful experience and being at the table with Layanee and Lois had to be fun…We don’t have to stop gardening in my zone 7 garden…we take breaks but I can usually find some garden activity.

    The garden looks lovely and just a little different from its exuberance when I was visiting during the fall! Have a good weekend!


    Gail, You know just how fun it could be! Are you planning your next RI trip yet? -kris

  3. Sounds like a wonderful luncheon and talk with Margaret. I agree with her, let the garden fade away gradually in the fall and don’t be in such a hurry to clean it all up and run inside to hide from winter! As your pictures show, there is a certain beauty in the ‘fade’.

    Thanks for an interesting, and always informative, bloom day post. I really do need to plan a trip to Rhode Island sometime!

    Carol, Come on over any time of year – it’s gorgeous even when faded! -kris

  4. Kris, Someone asked me what the lecture covered and I was not nearly so eloquent as you were in this great post but, I too, thoroughly enjoyed the travails of Margaret. I agree, that it was like being at ‘the kids table’ with you, Gail, Lois and the rest and believe me, the pleasure was all mine. Thanks for the ‘shout out’. I think we will have to discuss this ‘lavender’ issue in more depth sometime this winter. I will bring the tea and crumpets!

    Layanee, it’s a deal! I’m still thinking a lot about the lavender challenge (for those who might wonder, I’m challenged by the color, not the plant)! -kris

  5. Kris, your description of Margaret’s talk is wonderful. I would love to have heard it.

    Margaret, why don’t you come to Austin and give your talk? We don’t stop gardening here all winter, and you’d meet a lot of garden bloggers. 🙂

    Pam, I wish you could have been here! -kris

  6. Great post, Kris… and I had to laugh at the whole “question authority, even if it’s Martha Stewart” part of that talk! I think I could do that from here, but if she were my boss… okay, I’d be more than a little intimidated. 🙂

    By the way, I need to get some of that cuphea for next year. Do you guys grow that from seed? Lovely!

    Kim, That cuphea is one of my faves too but it’s a pretty late bloomer – as a matter of fact, the first year we grew it, it didn’t bloom until we brought it in for the winter. I can’t remember where we found it (possibly Avant Gardens though I don’t see it in their catalog now) but we’ve grown it from cuttings, not seed. -kris

  7. Looks like you have some pretty blue blooms to the left of that one photo.

    Darla, the pretty blue blooms are on the Salvia guaranitica – a hummingbird favorite, incidentally. -kris

  8. Ha! You made me laugh with your line about what is growing old in your garden. In Maine it’s beyond gray hairs – more like bald. I posted colorful leaves in NY instead. The talk sounded very inspirational.

    Sarah, After a weekend of wind, RI has a bald pate now too! It’s good you caught NYC leaves when you did – they’ll be bald too before too long… -kris

  9. Hi Kris,
    I’m soooo late in getting back to Blithewold blogging and have found the catching up tp be a wonderful feast. You asked, “what’s growing old in my garden?”–why, that would be me. And that’s a treat, too.

    That’s a perfect topic for another post. – I’m still waiting for a little wiser to add to my getting older… Your grandkitty Audrey says a big jjjjjjjjjjjjkkuiuuuuuuu! -kris

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