Since 1991, I have created and maintained a garden in Maryland (3 years), a large garden in rural Maine (8 years), a small garden in coastal Maine (7 years), and a medium-sized permaculture garden in New Hampshire (4 years and counting of this writing; here in 2023, it’s going on 14 years). It’s not easy designing gardens, choosing plants, nurturing them …and then leaving them to someone else’s devices.
Not easy, but quite instructive. I’ve learned a lot over the years, practicing in my gardens:
First, a newly formed (previously farmland) 1-acre suburban lot in zone 7 – I started with absolutely no gardening or landscape design experience at all and learned a lot from one designer, local nurseries, local nursery catalogs, magazines (not much internet back then!), and watching what happened to my plants over three years of hot summers and ice storms.
Then, a 10-acre shambling, mostly-meadow-and-forest property in zone 4 – I devoted myself first to a large rectangular vegetable garden, then branched out (ha) into a pond garden, a large front yard border, an entry garden, another large bed by the shed, a cutting garden of annuals, a linear shade border on the north side, and a bed on a knoll overlooking a glade of birch trees. Then I started planting along the driveway. I learned that I love foliage, variegation, shade plants, late summer perennials, and oddly shaped plants, leaves, and flowers.
Next, a tiny, less-than-1/4-acre (and most of it ledge) property in coastal zone 4b/5a, which had already been gardened to the hilt, was crammed with unending brick and plastic garden borders, and required me to fit new plantings in even as I tried to rescue and amend the soil that had been depleted with many non-hardy roses that were continuously dying; the soil was as arid as a desert, not a worm to be found for several years; and it was packed with beautiful peonies!
And now (for now), a 3/4-acre, very flat, zone 5a property with a thin wooded border behind it and a hill of raspberries overlooking it, and which has apparently not been farmed or gardened since at least the 1970s . I was starting from scratch again here, and after watching the property for a year, have created front and back borders, island gardens, a shade garden, a sunny side garden, a fruit guild (permaculture lingo, to be discussed in a later post), a garden of sorts in the rock wall running between our property and the neighbours’, a kitchen garden of chives, milkweed, mint, garlic, tarragon, filipendula, and whatever else arrives — with vegetables, herbs, and fruits randomly dotting some of these garden spaces.
My purpose with this blog is to record, with photos primarily, these past and present gardens (particularly in NH and coastal Maine), and also to talk about the challenges and joys of gardening, over and over, in a place that is only home temporarily.