I love touring gardens and I always come away with new ideas to try at home. That can be dangerous, like when I decided to change my color scheme of 20 years and rip out everything that wasn’t blue or yellow. But more often it’s a smaller change; a way to cluster containers or an intriguing combination of plants. Big Ideas for Small Spaces showcases some of the tips I’ve gleaned over the years, from the wonderful public gardens I’ve frequented.
Berkshire Botanical Garden
Locust GroveReducing Maintenance at Locust Grove - Locust Grove, in Hyde Park, is one of the best maintained historic sites in the Hudson Valley. That includes the grounds, the heritage vegetable garden, the dahlia and peony collections, and the ornamental borders and cutting gardens. Sounds like a lot to maintain - and it is. I talk with horticulturists Tim Steinhoff and Susan MacAvery about what it takes to keep these gardens looking spectacular and the tricks and time-savers they've developed and employed to make it so. They'd be more than happy if you choose to steal a few for your own garden.
BellefieldLessons from Beatrix Farrand and Exuberance of Bellefield - One of the few remaining gardens designed by famed designer Beatrix Farrand. Farrand is most famous for Dumbarton Oaks, in Washington, D.C. While Bellefield is much smaller, it contains many of the concepts and ideas that originally made mix borders so popular with gardeners. In this video and the accompanying write-up, I talk with Executive Director, Karen S Smythe, and Horticulturist Anne Cleves Symmes, of the Beatrix Farrand Garden Association, at Bellefield in Hyde Park, NY, about what makes Bellefield so special and what gardens can takeaway from it for their own gardens.
Tomato TrellisA Better Way to Trellis Tomatoes - Throw away the tomato cages and toss out your stakes. This trellis system from Locust Grove, in Poughkeepsie, NY, outproduces them all. My version is a bit more practical and I'll bet you could improve on it even more.
BlithewoodRestrained Abundance - Blithewood is tucked away at the end of a discreet road on the Bard Collage Campus, in Annandale-On-Hudson, NY. The garden is formally laid out on a center access with rigid square beds. But everything is made welcoming by the round shapes of billowing plants and the calming affect of a limited color palette.
Berkshire Botanical GardenEdibles on a Personal Scale - Not many public gardens devote as much space (and thought) to edibles as does the Berkshire Botanical Garden, in Stockbridge, MA. While it is an educational display and they do classes on growing vegetables, what impressed the visitors with me was how cleverly they had laid out the beds and how well they tucked even more vegetables into containers mixed in with the ornamental. If you think your yard is too small for a vegetable garden or if you just want to grow more in whatever space you have, take a peek.
SissinghurstWorld-Wide Influence and Subtle Style - Sissinghurst Castle was made famous by the garden created by Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicolson. The white garden has spawned many imitations, but there are other lessons to be learned here. Nicolson and Sackville-West had a keen eye for making garden rooms and were well ahead of their time in revering foliage.