What is your garden inspiration?

lavender_lass(4b)July 7, 2010

When you think about the "perfect" garden...what is your inspiration? Is it a garden you've visited, a magazine cover you saw, or maybe something from your childhood? Did you read The Secret Garden and long for a hidden garden all your own?

I just recently realized that all my garden inspiration seems to be coming from the Disney movie Snow White! (LOL) I was a little surprised, but I hadn't watched it in years and then a few months ago...there it was on TV. Darn it, if that scene in front of the wishing well and later the scene in the woods....didn't look a lot like my fairy garden and front gardens :)

No matter what our inspiration...we should remember to give ourselves a well-deserved break and not worry about perfection. It's been a crazy year for weather, so if anything is blooming and you have a shady place to enjoy your favorite beverage, then you must be doing something right! Relax and enjoy.....and maybe plan a few changes for next year.

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My Mom is part of my inspiration, she has like an Amazon forest in her backyard LOL so I did always prefer informal looks. Something else that inspires me is the houses around here that people are fixing up with yards full of beautiful plants in typical cottage styles. Love it. And most of all, my inspiration is my quest for perfection!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 5:23PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

You hit the nail on the head when you mentioned reading 'The Secret Garden' it left quite impression on me, I still pick it up once in awhile. The first time I heard this story it was read to us by one of our primary grade teachers. Even at 72 years of age when out in the garden weeding doing some mundane task, visions of what I imagine this garden must look like still floats through my thoughts. I saw the movie version with Margaret O'Brien when I was 11 or 12, that and a grandpa that dearly loved his garden, putting up with me tagging along helping/hindering him as he went about tending his garden. He taught me about pinks and lavender, foxgloves and canterbury bells, held me up to sniff the roses rambling over a rustic pergola, cherished memories that will stay with me forever.
My garden will never be finished, there will always be weeds trying to take over but when the flowers bloom, their scent filling the air.....I do relax and enjoy, that's what it's all about.
Psssst, I'm hiding in the house right now it's actually too hot for me outside. Tonight I'll be out dragging hoses around, a first for this year.


    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 5:33PM
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Another big vote vote for The Secret Garden. I wonder how many have been inspired by the beautiful words and images (in the original movie?)

But I would have to say my grandmother was my major inspiration - and grandfather. They had a bit old brick house with huge gardens and thing were always growing and blooming and fruiting and harvesting.

When I was 4, I took a flat of beet seedlings ready to be set out in the vegetable garden and planted them amidst the roses. My grandmother praised me and proudly let me water and grow those beets til we harvested them. I can still remember carrying them in my little sand pail to my mother to cook for dinner. I still love beets - how deep can a memory grow?

I was very little when I walked past clumps of shasta daisies, phlox, and delphinimums towering over my head. And how sweet were the ground cherries that I would pluck on those garden walks.

My mother gardened, too - she had big flowers - zinnias and clematis and swaths of iris. I think it was in my blood. :)

    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 8:13PM
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Speaking of The Secret Garden, one film that did get me interested in cottage gardening (not sure why) was Anne of Green Gables. It was so pretty where they filmed and everything looked just right, not too formal...so between that and TSG, it was a lot of inspiration!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 8:39PM
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Funny about The Secret Garden. I was in the stage version of that a few years ago and, boy, is it a dark show! haha... definately not much inspiration for pretty flowers there. (Wonderful music, though)

Anyhoo. My inspiration, I guess, comes from imagination. Not to sound weird... but when I picture myself gardening or walking through my garden I want to imagine I'm in a magical world where nothing is unfixable with a few herbs and a little magic. :-)

    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 8:43PM
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One of my gardening inspirations, which also influences my home decor style, were the homes of the older ladies my DM and I visited when I was a child. The old Victorian homes, gardens, tea being served (usually) in the spotless kitchens, the scent of lemon oil and lavender, and the shadowy sitting rooms curtained against the sun and full of old furniture, doilies, and collections made quite an impression on me. Some of these houses would have a monkey tree in the front garden (so intriguing to a child), often only a small patch of lawn, narrow concrete walkway, and many flowers and vines. The backyard gardens were usually full of vegetables and more flowers. My own 50's style home had large expanses of lawn and small and quite regimented flower beds except for one at the side which was a bit more cottage style and a narrow bed full of wallflowers - I liked those the best as they were not as orderly. Our large vegetable garden had regimented rows which I remember as being boring. My DF did have a long narrow bed for his roses and I felt very special to be allowed to cut bouquets and dead-head them from an early age. Inside our home was very different from the old homes with modern furniture and very few tchotchkes which did not appeal as the antiques did.

I've sometimes wondered why these old homes made such an impression on me and I liked them so much more than our new house with large yards.

As a child I actually had what might be called a secret garden as our 1 acre property bordered on unoccupied forested land where we played. It seemed such a safe and special place with trees, bushes, and wildflowers which might be what I am trying to recreate.

LOL Lavender Lass - there is little 'perfection' in my garden this year as it's either all overgrown or new beds with transplants and new plants requiring care! I do get satisfaction when new plants survive and thrive and I know at least some of it will look better next year.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 9:16PM
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pat_tea(PNW, Van,WA)

Can I please see picks of your fairy garden Lavendar Lass? My new obsession!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 2:17PM
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My inspiration has to be Stan Hywet Hall in Akron, a grand early 20th. century Tudor estate.

"and the shadowy sitting rooms curtained against the sun and full of old furniture, doilies, and collections made quite an impression on me" Sounds like my library room. The other rooms in the house I keep simple, uncluttered and floors bare. In that room however, anything goes - piles of books, dish collections, broken down upholstered furniture (that you can still sit on IF you know how) and worn carpets. Heavy velvet drapes on the big window, with a pair of old lace behind for the summer. And yes, the drapes are shut today.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 2:42PM
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I'm not totally a formal garden person, as paintings like the one on the Cottage Garden Forum page have always inspired not only my gardens but my life. Something about that period in history has always captivated me.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 2:48PM
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Pat tea- I am hoping to finish the garden this weekend or next (depending on how long it takes to weed the kitchen garden, which I can't put off any longer!) LOL

My idea of a fairy garden, may not be what other people see in their mind, but it's full of roses, cosmos, pansies, lilacs, peonies, blueberries, and butterfly bushes. There's also a little garden nearby, under some plum trees, that looks more "wild" and where fairies might live.

It's not a miniature garden, but just a nice place for sitting and watching bees, butterflies and the robins enjoy themselves...and the nieces play, when they want to dress up like fairies :)

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 3:03PM
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I worked in Akron for about 7 years and lived a mile from Stan Hywet - how charming are the gardens and grounds there! Those tiers of retainments, stairs and gardens in the back are marvelous. And I love the two garden rooms on the first floor - the morning room in front and the room off the patio with the brick floors, wall and the wall fountain in the back - the best parts of the entire house. :)

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 3:26PM
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cindy,the last time I was there the gardens were not as well cared for as they usually are and plantings sparse. Not sure what was going on, lack of funds or volunteers? Plus the long avenue of huge mature trees off the music room (species? can't remember)had been cut down and new ones planted. It will be years and years before the small saplings resemble anything like you and I remember. I'm not sure I will live to see it.

I was also struck by how the furnishings seemed to be falling into disrepair, threadbare,ect. Of course most are a century (or more) old, but normally there is restoration going on all the time.

I need to make another trip soon.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 4:08PM
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My friend took this photo of The English Garden at Stan Hywet two years ago when we visited.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 4:55PM
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I think the most influential first garden for me would be Villandry. We had been visiting a bunch of chateaux in the Loire Valley, and that was one of the last ones. You had to pay to go in the chateau, but it was free to hang out in the garden, so a bunch of us did that. (Junior year abroad architecture program). It was the first time I'd ever seen a potager garden. I remember the pumpkins making a huge impression on me - I had never imagined that vegetables could be ornamental! It also impressed on me the idea of garden rooms, and geometrical layouts. Mine are much simpler, of course, but those were the first inspiration for me.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 4:56PM
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bouquet(z8 Dallas)

About 15 years ago I attended a baby shower for my friend. Her sister in law brought a vase of flowers from her garden in Oklahoma and I was so blown away by this beautiful mixed bouquet of hollyhocks, daisies and misc other blooms. I took a picture of the arrangement and it later served as inspiration for my current garden. When I share a bouquet I hope that others are as dazzled by mine as I was by that beautiful vase of flowers long ago.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 5:35PM
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neverenoughflowers(6 SEPA Downingtown)

I live in an area with some of the most beautiful gardens in the country, Longwood, Chanticleer, Morris Arboretum, Bartram Gardens, just to name a few. I guess I would call these my inspiration.

I also get inspired by the beautiful photos that you cottagers post of your gardens. Even though I have 6 acres, my flower gardens are comparatively small. They are mostly up against the house. We have such trouble with wildlife destroying them that it is defeating .Even plants that Cameron recommends get chewed on and spit out but the deer.
I am also inspired by photos in garden magazines.


    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 9:17PM
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alisande(Zone 4b)

Another Secret Garden reader here. It was my all-time favorite children's book, and I read many.

I am living my mother's dream. She grew up in the country, but moved to NYC when she got married. She missed gardening, and would take me on walks to find wild flowers under train trestles and other spots here and there. When I was a child, "a house in the country" was the ideal. My parents planned to move back to what was then rural New Jersey, but my mom died (from cleaning a rug) before that could happen. She had just turned 38.

So I was raised in the city, but for the past 35 years have lived in an old farmhouse on 31 acres. My mom probably would have designed better gardens than I, but I enjoy doing what I do for both of us.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 10:03PM
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To be honest, I am inspired by your gardens. I always have loved to see other people's gardens, whether in pictures, or on forums or in magazines, and take inspiration form them. No, I don't try to copy their designs, but the color combinations or a specific plant or even a feeling.

Look at the garden pictures on the forum now! That's enough inspiration for a lifetime.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 11:39PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

Most of my inspiration for gardening style comes from the gardens I have visited in Seattle since childhood. I have always loved the "typical" style one finds over there- tough plants that can stand neglect, rock walls cascading with plants, lush shady plantings mixed with natives...

The book that has most inspired me is Ann Lovejoy's Naturalistic Gardening. Bought it years ago, but still refer to it for ideas! The gardens in it are so amazing...just what mine wants to be when it grows up, LOL!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 11:53PM
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Alisande, what a tragic, but also inspiring and beautiful story. My Grandma died when my Mom was only 12 so she, too, I think, does some things for her and her Mom, in the same vein that you do. Losing a Mom so early must be so hard. I'm glad that you are thinking of her and living out both your dream and hers.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 2:28AM
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lily51(OH 5)

My family is an inspiration for my gardens. Both grandmothers and a grandfather had beautiful vegetable and flower gardens...perennials and roses. My father was an avid grower of geraniums and tuberous begonias, starting them in the house every year. Mom loved pinks and violets.
Everyone had beautiful spring gardens of tulips, daffodil and hyacinths.

Today's inspiration is nearby Kingwood Center, which has the most beautiful gardens and greenhouses. When I'm there, I just want to stay. If you're ever in north-central Ohio, stop for a visit there...you'll want to stay, too!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 4:41AM
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alisande(Zone 4b)

Thank you, Crycek. I recently wrote about my mother, my daughter Gillian, and a sign I was given. For those who would like to read it, I've linked my blog below. Just scroll down to the previous entry, "Honeysuckle From Heaven."

Here is a link that might be useful: Sweet Rocket (Susan's blog)

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 10:43AM
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I have seven links to websites saved in a folder called "inspirational sites" and Sweet Rocket just became the eighth. If you haven't seen Susan's blog--it is well worth the visit (link above).

As for garden inspiration, this will sound strange but it was the soil. When we bought our first house, I wasn't interested in gardening. But DH wanted to terrace a slope. He built raised boxes out of cedar logs then filled them with rotted horse manure and sand. The soil smelled soooo good, and it was filled with worms! That triggered a full-on garden obsession that lasted for several years--read everything, bought so many plants. My garden obsession has distilled into a hobby. But I'm still obsessed with soil!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 12:55PM
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