Everybody seeks inspiration. It is what keeps us going, recharged and with new resolve. As a gardener, nothing spurs me on as visiting other gardens. Private or public, well known or not, large or small, other people’s gardens serve me big time. There is without question something to teach me, excite me or thrill me. In equal measure, the interest and enthusiasm of a visitor, will please the garden owner no end. Everybody wins.
It was just so on a recent trip to Andover, Massachusetts. I was there to visit with friends and work on designing a garden. The perfect weather made it very easy to succumb to distractions of the outdoor variety. Before long, I had temporarily shelved work so I could see this ‘fun’ garden in the neighborhood. And there it was – a riot of summer energy beckoning all who passed by. I could not stop smiling when I saw this front garden right by the street.
Giant sunflowers towered over purple coneflowers, zinnias, bee balm, phlox, hollyhocks, daisies, rudbeckias and other seasonal flowers. It was a squarish bed of raucous color and exuberance. Not particularly designed with any deliberate mix of shrubs and flowering plants or taking into consideration a deliberate combination of foliage, shapes and textures, this was very much a cottage garden. It was indeed pure fun. Clearly, the gardener had created it for the singular pleasure of passers-by. Such a generous, happy gesture.
As I paused to look from the car, the gardener herself returned home. It was only right that I get out, introduce myself and tell her how much I was enjoying her “public” garden. Typically, she was very pleased to hear this and went on to tell me more about her efforts and thoughts. She applies organic practices, keeps bees, grows her own vegetables and clearly loves doing it all. I got to see the rest of the garden, received a mix of sweet William seeds harvested right then, caught a glimpse of her passionate nature, appreciated her knowledge and experience and felt once again grateful to belong to this ever expanding circle of fellow gardeners. What an unexpectedly rich garden visit this turned out to be.
I hope Maria continues to offer such charm and beauty to her neighbors. I hope even more that some if not all will follow suit.
Enjoy the images of Maria Cusuman’s garden. Be inspired.
(c) 2013 Shobha Vanchiswar