When I was a child, my parents converted a muddy mountainside lot in North Carolina to a lush, rock garden with trails lined by timbers and great patches of perennials. It was my playground, my escape, my refuge.
Then, when we move to Virginia, they did it again – taking a yard that had only a red clay cutaway and turning it into a sanctuary with trees and flowers and a frog pond with a waterfall.
In my childhood eyes, those things just appeared. Despite the fact that I must have been enlisted to help, I don’t remember the work of building those landscapes, except for a very clear image of my father carrying railroad ties on end by himself across the driveway. What I remember is the sense of peace and respite and beauty those gardens created.
Here on the farm, I want to recreate that feeling. We’ve already begun – with fern-lined trails that travel up the mountain and a planting of fruit trees, crepe myrtles, and knock-out roses on the south bank by the farm house. As the years move forward, we will add more plants – perennials, mostly, because now I understand so deeply why my mother loved those beloved returners – the columbine and the solomon’s seal. The bank by the farmhouse will become a sun-lovers paradise with bulbs and shrubs – daylilies, salvia, bee balm, echinacea. (Here’s a great list of sun-loving perennials.)
Then, up the hill, behind the lean-to with the living roof, I would like to create an azalea garden – lit from within by flame azaleas in the May. Then, throughout the hill, I hope to lace rhododendrons and mountain laurel through the trees and feature the ferns that grace our little piece of land with their frondish goodness.
All of these gardens will take time, and now, I know that part of the joy of this place is in building it. I hope you’ll come join us on the journey. Come clear some land, come plant a shrub, come just sit in the woods and listen to the wind. You are always welcome.