A Sense of Place


the green green green of hosta in June

Recently, I contacted a woman I had known in both high school and college. I was going to be in her neck-of-the-woods and thought it might be fun to reconnect. Of course, it was fun — it was fabulous! We didn’t even hit the brakes, just fell right back to the sense of one-another that can perhaps only exist with people who were teenagers together.

We found so many similar interests — gardens, food, writing, health – and if we had more time to hang out together, I expect we would have found many, many more.

She had read this blog, and gave me the very best insight. She wanted to see “the big picture” of the garden. To get a sense of the place as a whole, not just as photos of this plant and that plant.

Hallelujah! What an edit! Spectacular. Brilliant. I was so grateful.

Next day: OMG How to provide that larger picture? Do a drawing? Take a ton of photos? A short video? It sent me into a tizzy.


standing in the vegetable patch, looking toward the boxwood garden

Then, I went outside and saw the most beautiful light and all this verdant green. It was a spectacular day and the garden was looking happy and new and pretty. So here it is, Annie – see how my little farm is shoehorned into the corner of the perennial garden? It’s a spot I’ve watched for ten years, measuring the hours of sunlight.

The backyard is shaped like a triangle, coming to a point about fifty feet back from the breakfast room windows, the entire garden at it’s most wide is only about sixty feet across. The back corner is so shaded by enormous oak trees, that no water or light ever reaches the ground. It’s a wasteland where potted up Christmas amaryllis spend the summer. About two-thirds of the way back from the house, three kousa dogwoods form an understory canopy under the oaks. Over to one side is a shade garden and a little sitting area under a roof extension. On the other side is a patio, surrounded by stone walls (check it out in the photo of Dylan). It is here, above the stone wall, near the patio, that I’ve located the vegetable garden – the *farm.*

As for plants – there are a handful of shrubs, some hospital-case shrubs rescued from jobsites, some others I’ve grown from wee 3″ starts, some were transplanted from other places around the house (usually after deer munched them) — hydrangeas, witch hazel, camellias, daphne, rhodies, roses, junipers – and a ribbon of English boxwood in the very shadiest part. My crazy collections of hosta, epimedium, lilies and hellebore make this space very green, especially now, after all the rain we’ve had.

So, you know how it works – the day you have a haircut scheduled is the day your hair will look better than it’s looked in weeks. Well, the day the garden looked so beautiful was the same day we put an offer on a house on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. It’s a project: we’ve long dreamt of creating a sustainable, small home, full of character and detail. And we adore the little town with all its charm and quirkiness.

I am full of anticipation and nerves. It seems inevitable, we are moving from one life to another, and this time as designer of the whole, not just renovator of the parts. I hope to carry forward this sense of place I have in the garden– the feeling of being home.


Dylan posing on the patio guarding the seedling tray behind him.
The vegetable patch starts just above the stone wall and extends up to the fence.

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