nm_opening_photoGreening my summer focused on the perennial garden in our New Hampshire country place. It sits almost 2500’ up on a long ridge. The skyline we face is the Green Mountain range of Vermont. That means we look west so the sunsets from our back porch are simply luscious.

Ours is a climate of extremes. Plus, it seems we have our own micro-climate. When we travel down from Bible Hill we find the townies often don’t have the same blizzard conditions that are still raging round our house…that their flowers are two weeks ahead of ours, already in bloom…that temperatures can vary by as much as 10 degrees.

When I decided to create my perennial gardens I knew I it would be a challenge. Truck loads of soil had to be carted in since all we had was rock and sand. Over the years the gardens have expanded. I keep them to herbs, perennials, flowering shrubs and vines since I am not reliably around to harvest vegetables and fruits. I use no pesticides or chemical growth enhancers.

This is not a pastime for the faint of heart. Just when I think I’ve mastered even one single thing about gardening, nature makes me humble. Brings me right to my knees, where gardeners ultimately spend most of their time!  For instance, for three years I was besieged with Anise Hyssop. I had so many lovely tall plants with their bee-loving lavender flowers I was constantly digging them out and sharing with friends. I thought I was the queen of Hyssop. Then one summer, not one single Anise Hyssop returned. I waited, season after season, thinking that they might reappear. This summer I broke down and admitted defeat. I planted a new row and am happy to report they look stunningly hardy. So once again I was reminded that, although I’ve become older I am still such a young gardener.

If you’ve been following the weather, you know that this summer in New England was rain, rain and more rain. Still, I gardened on. I ripped out weeds, tore into spots where plants were teasing me with lush foliage and never producing blooms, I transplanted, divided, dug in new finds, and watched the landscape of my property go from bleak to bountiful. 

NM_before_photHere is a good example. The first is a photo of the garden shed in early May with a mere forsythia in bloom and another of that same area in July.  NM_garden_photoThe second photo is what the area looks like now.  Startling difference isn’t it! I often think, this is the year when the garden just won’t come back, but, like swallows returning to Capistrano, my plantings stumble then race forward to center stage with a showy display that always seems a bit cheeky to me. Dancing in the mountain breeze these high stepping beauties seem to chide…“oh you of little faith”!

After a weekend my clothes are muddy at the knees and my nails are an embarrassment as I sit before my manicurist on Monday. But Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Earth laughs in flowers”. It is this pure joy that satisfies my soul. I take such delight in the burst of color and the contrast of foliage, the buzz of the bees and the hovering of butterflies in a place where once, a garden did not exist.

NM_Pesto_photoNow…I’m off to make the winter supply of basil pesto! (With big bunches of the herb from the organic farm down the road…my own basil crop got washed out!!! Gardeners must be flexible! See photo attached.)