Mid-November ramble

Red maple on the great lawnIt’s garden bloggers’ bloom day and I’m distracted from blooms! Not a day went by this summer when I didn’t try to see up the skirt of a bloom with the macro setting on the camera but lately I’m all for the wide angles. Working in the garden I get so focused on the details that just like when I spend too much time in front of the computer, it feels good to stretch my eyes on the distance. (That said, I did look for some perfect close-ups in honor of bloom day – the Enkianthus is not blooming, I know, but isn’t it so bloom-day pretty? As usual, click-on for a larger look)

Rosa ‘Morning Has Broken’Dewy rose mid-November

Entrance fuchsia and lobelia - still blooming away!Red-veined Enkianthus (Enkianthus campanulatus)

This has been a long fall so far at Blithewold. We are getting eased into the bare distances of winter. This is the time for gardeners to get a broad look at our gardens and then retreat inside for mind’s eye dreaming. The Annual Garden Design Luncheon is perfectly timed to provide a fresh thought palette for those dreams. Today Douglas Reed (preeminent landscape architect from the firm Reed Hilderbrand in Watertown, MA) spoke to us about designs that fully “connect” us to the place. In his work, Doug evaluates each project site based on its history, the lay of the land and its natural attributes and rather than eradicating any of that (which LAs are perfectly capable of doing) he works to enhance our personal experience within – and looking out from – the site. He talked about how our own childhoods also help to create a connection to a place. Kids spend the first few years taking in and processing their surrounding environment. Mid November lightWhat we learned then (the shape of a tree, the size of the sky) never leaves us and instead informs how we build and inhabit our adult world. I hadn’t really thought about it that way before! And only yesterday I read an interview (sent as link in comment on yesterday’s post – thanks, Max!) of a California based garden designer who talked about how his Newport childhood influences his work.


As a landscape, Blithewold fits its place in the world (Doug beautifully illustrated this point) and because of the views within and out, we are personally grounded in it. I suspect the Van Wickle/McKee’s probably felt an even deeper connection to the place and worked with the site (not against it!) to create something that felt viscerally familiar to them.Mid November at the pond

Do you feel that kind of “connected” to your own garden or any other landscape? Do you see childhood views in your gardens/landscapes? I’d love to hear from anyone who attended today’s luncheon – don’t be shy! – and I put the question out as a possible meme too if any fellow bloggers feel tempted to write a full post… (Please put a link in a comment so we’ll all know if and where the conversation continues!)

11 thoughts on “Mid-November ramble

  1. Interesting thoughts, Kris. I’m too busy checking on Bloom Day posts to think about it now, but perhaps later. By the way, your leading photo of the tree is incredible.

  2. Those are two very though provoking questions… just the kind of question to think about on long winter days when we have the opportunity to just think about the garden. I’ll have to give them so thought.

    The tree is absolutley “bloom day pretty”. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Carol at May Dreams Gardens

  3. Thanks, Pam and keep me “posted” if your thoughts ever turn to those questions!

    Carol, Thank you as always for being such a terrific bloom day hostess! I promise more actual blooms (from the greenhouse) next month!

  4. Kris: Those are great questions and my childhood views definitely impact my garden…every day. I had a grandfather who had the most beautiful garden complete with rose covered arbor and fish pond. Will have to do a post on that garden. I have two pictures of his garden which have been colorized. I’ll try to take a picture or scan them for a future post and thanks for that thought provoking post! I am now right back in Pop’s garden.

  5. Oooh… I’ll have to work some to make my thoughts coherent. So this may end up being a post. But one of the first things I thought about was my trip last year to northern New Jersey with my boyfriend who grew up there. I was endlessly fascinated by the woods there (we went hiking) because they felt so OLD with the rocky outcroppings (not where I expected to see rocks, having grown up in a former swampland) and tall, thick trees. I kind of felt that it was magical… but that’s probably because it was different than any woods I’d ever seen in Ohio.

  6. I feel connected to most parts of my garden on a visceral level – many parts of my small garden remind me of people, former gardens or scenes from my past. I suppose I’ve created it that way and most of the plants that I add have some memory for me.

    On 5 December, my favourite mandolin player, Marilynn Mair, is playing at Blithewold. I was all excited thinking, wow … I know about Blithewold! I couldn’t wait to tell you that!

  7. Layanee, I can’t wait to see your grandfather’s garden – definitely send the link when your post is up!

    Kim, Vive la difference! Sometimes the connection we feel to the earth has nothing to do with familiarity! Some places like those NJ woods just resonate for us with that “this is perfect!” feeling.

    Chookie, Thank you for running with it! I loved reading about your Dad’s and Auntie Goog’s gardens!

    Kate, Have you been aware of planting things that remind you of people and places or is it an unconscious thing? I think on some level I’ve known why I’m attached to certain plants but I didn’t fully realize what a big part my childhood influences have played in how I garden.
    And it sure is a small world!! I’ll have to make sure I stick around on the 5th to hear Ms. Mair play!

  8. Brendan, mon ami, like you that maple is actually part of a flock of other trees…

  9. I believe that every garden a person creates is (at least subconsciously) an attempt to recreate the garden of childhood. This can lead to conflicts between gardeners & their significant others if their childhood ideals are inconsistent. This is definitely worth a wintertime post.

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