Let's be clear, we are most definitely gardeners-in-training(ish). We aspire to be gardeners, but we know that we have much to learn and practice before we can confidently say that we are gardeners. We are somewhat certain that someday we will be able to own the title--like everything else in life, it is a journey.
Our first spring (2016) at Hound House, we cleaned up some beds, did some planting, and made lots of mistakes. Lots. Some of those mistakes were the result of an urgency to have the yard looking good for the Newtown House and Garden Tour since we accepted an invitation to participate in the event. We'd been so focused on the interiors that the garden did not get the same attention. While we were thoughtful about the feeling we want in the garden, we lacked a real plan. So, we made it through the first season having learned a very important lesson--planning is essential. We also became acutely aware that we have a tremendous amount to learn!
That summer, we began visiting open gardens around Connecticut and beyond, talking to gardeners, poring through books, and stalking Instagram feeds for inspiration. Click on photos for links to some of our favorite feeds and gardens.
We knew that we needed to step up our garden game. Once winter hit, that was when we really dove in to solidifying a plan. We both love formal gardens, but our house doesn't lend itself to having too formal of a feel. There are aspects of an English country garden we appreciate, but sometimes they seem too haphazard and free. We have to find a balance that works for us. As far as color scheme, we decided to stick with green, black, and white for the most part. There is something elegant about the simplicity of sticking with a limited palette. So, our springboard was this first, very rough, sketch.
This is our first plan. We've made revisions since we put this on paper, but it provided the springboard for where are now, and where we are heading.
As soon as we were in the clear to begin working outside, we hit the ground running in the spring of 2017. Over the course of the winter, we'd come to realize that we needed to apply some of the same principles outside that we do inside. For example, playing with opposites--structure and loose; formal and casual; black and white. We believe that repetition can make a great impact--in the garden, repeated shapes, plants, colors, etc. We worked throughout the season--correcting previous mistakes and implementing phase 1 of our plan. Of course, there were plenty of obstacles. Chipmunks, money, and patience proved to be the most frustrating. Gardening is a lesson in perseverance, acceptance, and humility. We can pretty much control the choices we make for the interiors and they maintain unless we decide to revise. Outside, there are so many variables. For people who like to be in control, gardening can certainly push you right to the very edge of sanity. For instance, when a bed is really flourishing, and overnight a once-adorable chipmunk turned spawn-of-Satan chews through the legs of a beautiful clematis. Again, we have so much to learn--not just about gardening (and pest control), but also about accepting the aspects of our lives that are simply beyond our control.
So here we are on the brink of spring (10 more days to be exact), with about a foot-and-a-half of snow on the ground, ready to hit the ground running once again. We've been poring over books, magazines, catalogues, and Instagram feeds for more inspiration. Thinking through perennials, annuals, beds, and containers so that we stay true to our plan. We have multiple lists and multiple phases so that we can prioritize and be mindful about our budget. All of that said, we are sure to make more mistakes, curse Mother Nature (and probably each other), and continue to learn many life-lessons along the way. And someday we will see the reality of our vision. And someday we will confidently say that we are gardeners.