If you feel as if I've been quietly absent from the blogosphere, you'd be correct. I simply cannot fight the urge to play outdoors when the weather is this crisp and frankly, spectacular. It's been in the high sixties here this past week and the air is crisp – the long shadows undeniably speak of the autumn that is but a few days away.
I've spent time out in the potager, with many “helpers” at my feet, pulling out chicken-trampled-tomato plants, squash vines that have long been lost to bugs, and flowers that are no longer adding beauty to the gardens. There is still much to be enjoyed from the slowly decaying beds and truth be told, I find the dried echinacea heads, floppy sunflowers, dried corn stalks, and bolted celery plants as equally thrilling as a perfect June rose. Different, most certainly, but uniquely beautiful to be sure.
With a honey latte in hand, I've been working my way from bed to bed. Some plants are mulched, others are pruned, and yet others are thrown to the compost pile. A stash of plastic baggies hides in my waist-apron for collecting seeds from the snapdragons, cosmos, hollyhocks, calendula, morning glory, and foxgloves.
Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting with a friend who was up vacationing with her husband. It was the first time we'd seen each other in over two years and the fellowship was like a drink of cold water on a hot summer day.
After a long and richly satisfying meal, we walked the gardens together and spent some time dissecting the “rules” that are put on gardeners. She chuckled at the zucchini planted next to the morning glory, the rosemary that had been tucked in amongst the roses and sedum. She'd been taught, as many English gardeners are, to keep herbs, vegetables, and flowers separately. Why? I've no idea. Perhaps for the sake of order and organization? Luckily for my gardens, as many others who follow a more French-style of potager gardening, all plants are intermingled. Grapes sit next to foxgloves, tomatoes next to zinnias, and currents amongst the lavender. In the beginning stages of planning her new garden, she was intrigued by the idea that the gardens could all be so casually (yet intentionally) married together.
The main question she had, and many other readers have as well, is consistent: where do you get your inspiration?
Lord knows I can't inspire myself. I've tried. But my coffee tables and bookshelves are weighted by authors and photographers who have impacted Le Chalet with their work. Often, when I feel creatively dry or uncertain about a particular area of the gardens, I head to these resources for help.
I hope they'll come to give you great confidence in your gardens as well.
Here are my favorite garden inspiration sources:
English Cottage Gardening
Pleasures of the Cottage Garden
Tasha Tudor's Gardens
Perfect French Country
Perfect English Farmhouse
The Country Garden
Seasons at the Farm (yes, this one is mine!)
The Layered Garden
In smalls ways, gardening is a bit of a disease. Once contracted, it begins to spread and there simply is no cure other than to dig your fingers deep into the soil and begin to work. In fact, I'm slowly coming to the realization that my “hobby” of gardening may very well be spreading into the realm of obsession. I doubt I will ever tire of studying the Great Artist whilst (is whilst still a word? it should be) pruning roses.
I enjoy each phase of the garden but perhaps mostly this one. The greatest work is behind us now and the gardens have given up what they will. In spite of all their offerings, they still will continue to give us beauty for the remaining frost-free days (and some plants and flowers even a bit after that).
May your last few weeks of gardening be inspired as you enjoy what is left and plan for what is still to come!
(PS: My plans for the near future include a small-scale-Monet-style pond).