Last spring I decided to get serious about gardening. It was a skill I had always wanted to develop and after years of dubbing myself a “brown thumb,” I decided to give it another shot. Around the same time, Lara Casey published a mini gardening 101 series, which gave me the bolt of confidence to honestly try my hand at it. I poured over Floret Farm’s “Cut Flower Garden”. My husband hummed Chopin’s Funeral March as I hauled dirt and plants to our backyard.
Despite the best efforts of our lawn crew and local wildlife, I grew a small garden with an assortment of flowers and vegetables. Stephen, just over a year old, drew great pleasure from helping me water, weed, and dig for worms. He would point to ripe red tomatoes, knowing they were ready to be plucked and immediately bitten into, with the juice running down his little chin.
By the end of the season, it had become clear why I had previously failed so many times at gardening: I was trying to be perfect. I planted seedlings too close together, without giving them room to spread their roots and grow, to make my garden look immediately splendid. I didn’t water them enough and then overwatered when it was clear they would not survive. My previous garden failures held an uncanny representation of so many parts of my life.
Gardening has also taught me to appreciate the rhythms and seasons of life. Not just the bountiful summers, but also the preparation and planning of the seemingly endless winter months. It has reminded me that every season has its purpose, and must all work together to create the beauty of the summer.
As I cleared the last of the plants from our beds last fall and tucked bulbs in for the spring, I jotted down notes for our next season. Nothing meticulous, just reminders of what grew, what didn’t, and which plants the deer left alone (not many). Shortly after the new year, with many weeks of winter in front of us, I started planning our garden spaces and dreaming of the vegetables and flowers I wanted to grow. With a few unexpectedly warm days, I removed thorny bushes that were hogging the best sunlight and transplanted hydrangeas and azaleas.
So on this first day of spring, I thought I would share some of my favorite garden inspirations – both practical and still a far-fetched dream – that have fueled my planning for the new season. You can follow the full boards here and here, but these are the images I return to over and over.
My most valuable source of gardening inspiration is the Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture. Not only are their grounds incredible, but their greenhouse (which is larger than our entire yard) is an absolute thrill to walk through. You can see more photos throughout the seasons of 2017 here: spring, summer, fall & winter.
How amazing is Joanna Gaines’ new garden?! Such a beautiful space to grow and cultivate flowers and vegetables.
I don’t have a greenhouse, though I do have the inkling of an idea to somehow convert our unused outdoor shower into a tiny greenhouse.
Ina Garten’s garden in the Hamptons is, of course, nothing short of superb.
Photo: Elle Decor
I grew up exploring Colonial Williamsburg and then went to college at William & Mary, so I always find their meticulous gardens inspiring.
Photo: Colonial Williamsburg
Photo: Phyllis Trevor
I’m not attempting climbing roses this year, but I hope to in the future.Photo: Pinterest
It’s been a very long time since I visited the gardens of Monticello, but I remember even then being amazed at the incredible greenspace. And a backdrop of the rolling Virginia mountains isn’t bad either.
Photo: Martha Stewart
Lastly, and just for fun since we are not permitted to have one, I dream of one day having a little chicken coop. I really, really, really want a chicken named Henrietta and I have no idea why. But, someday, maybe we’ll have space for a sweet little coop.
Photo: Southern Living