Tag Archives: American Conifer Society

What Inspires a Gardener?

Contributed by Christie Dustman

One of the hardest “titles” to call myself is an Artist.  I struggle to feel like what I do is creative enough, interesting enough, hard enough or just plain “artistic.” I hold artistry as the pinnacle of talents, along with diplomacy and social grace. Sometimes I say things like, “Oh, anyone could do this,” when speaking about my design work and encounter looks of disbelief.

I found myself on the other side of this experience two weeks ago when I led a group of 120 avid gardeners, members of the American Conifer Society, across Southwestern New Hampshire and Southeastern Vermont to tour four personal gardens. Each garden was unique; it was clear that each of the owners poured their personal inspiration and artistry into their beautiful properties, and each of them was so modest about what they had created.

It is this inability of the Artist to see their creations objectively that is so curious to me.  Perhaps when a garden grows out of love of plants, love of land, and love of combining the land, plants, stones, water and wood, that it feels more like a fulfillment of a deep need rather than an artistic endeavor. For each of these spectacular gardens, the gardeners who created them made them because they had to—they needed to—and they were so grateful to be appreciated by the wondrous eyes of us, the visitors. Perhaps we allowed them to see themselves as artists for a moment.

Enjoy these photos of the gardens…

Grout Hill Farm is a 300-acre property of farm land and gardens which owners Kris Fenderson & Alston Barrett have cultivated for forty-five years.

The barn at Grout Hill Farm

                         The Barn at Grout Hill Farm

Owned by Michael and Kathy Nerrie, the mission of Distant Hills Garden is to connect people to the natural world by opening their 58 acres of gardens, forest, fields and wetlands, including a floating ‘fens’ Cranberry Bog, to the public each month.

Water feature at Distant Hills Farm

                   Water feature at Distant Hills Farm

Inspired Garden, the private garden of Marc Hudson, garden designer and owner of a specialty nursery by the same name, was started by his father. The newer areas of the garden boast richly planted garden beds, a waterfall and a parterre garden.

Inspired Garden

                    Marc Hudson’s “Inspired Garden”

Woodland Farms, Susan and Rick Richter’s gardens-in-progress have been evolving for ten years around an oak-and-stone dwelling built to suggest a medieval Anglo-Norman house on 300 acres in Vermont. Exquisitely detailed gardens, buildings and stone complete the design of this small manor farm.

Woodland Farms

             Stone work by Dan Snow at Woodland Farms

Cones, Conifers and a Road Trip

2015-8-12 pix - conifers

 

Don’t look for the whole crew and I on August 14th – 16th.  We will be in Philly for the Northeast regional meeting of the American Conifer Society.  The Society’s purpose is “…to promote the use of conifers in the garden and landscape and to educate the public about their care and preservation.”  If you have met me, you know I spread the gospel of conifers everywhere I go.  Much like Johnny Appleseed spread apples, I can’t plant a job without adding some conifers and I can wax poetic about my favorite specimens like old friends.

Over the 17 years that I have been a member, I have visited countless gardens all over the US and in England that use conifers, but also showcase great garden design and other plants. Think of what you collect – pottery, art, salt/pepper shakers, pens, etc.  I happen to collect conifers and other plants.  And this plant society gives me entry into some of the best venues to see other people’s collections- many privately owned gardens.  Seeing plants all over the country and talking to other confirmed plant fanatics is a great way to spend a weekend.  And I bring home a couple new plants each time!

Check out www.conifersociety.org.  There is still room for the Northeast meeting in Philly!