Words of Wisdom from Margaret Roach

A Way To GardenFor the last few years (really), a little slip of paper has been floating around in the piles on the kitchen counter.  I had planned to see Margaret Roach’s garden in Copake, New York, at her Open Garden Day as part of a trip to visit Uncle Buzz in Salisbury.  Sadly, her garden was devastated by hail, so instead of a tour she offered an illustrated talk.  I was disappointed not to see her garden, which I’ve been following virtually here for years, but felt worse for her to have so much work turned into shredded leaves in just a few moments.  The good news is that her lecture was fascinating, as I can remember from my notes, scribbled on a piece of hotel stationery and saved since, I kid you not, June of 2013.

“The garden is a 365-day-a-year thing.  The garden never closes.”

Non-gardeners and sometimes even gardeners can get trapped into thinking the garden is all about smashing moments, nothing more, but there is always something there.  Even on the most dreary day of winter, you’ll find something to look at, to take note of, to think about.  It’s not all roses, people.

“When people say some colors don’t go together, think of the colors of the sunset.  It is YOUR garden.”

So if you want to have orange marigolds next to pink lilies, be her guest.  Mom always said, somewhat ominously, that you could tell a lot about a person by her garden.  So, embrace it!

“Design your garden from viewing spots in the house.”

This is just common sense, but how often do we really do it?  The oak tree garden is a focal point from the dining room and even from the front door, and it’s my most successful garden, so that’s good.  The kitchen window overlooks the rhododendrons and the akebia on the trellis, not terribly exciting but okay.  The living room windows overlook the maple tree, so not too bad, and the back door offers a good view of the terrace.  Pretty good on the whole, but not on purpose.

My final notes are about a few plants she suggested.

  • For big leaves, go for Rodgersia (I think it’s too dry here) and Astilboides (maybe ditto).
  • Leave rhubarbs to flower, they are gorgeous.
  • Cissus discolor, the rex begonia vine, is a tropical she has written about here.  Gorgeous leaves!

It was a wonderful morning, and I intend to go back…one day.  Maybe this June or August?



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