Sunday, March 22

Flower Garden Essentials

I. LOVE. CHARLOTTE. MOSS. She is my go-to style guru. From the soap in the bathroom, the flowers in the garden, the book on the bedside table, her attention to detail is unsurpassed. All are strong symbols of a life in progress. You look at these details and a beautiful world unfolds. Even though it is planned, Charlotte makes it look effortless.

I have a collection of her books, my favorite being A Passion for Detail. Every page bursting with superb photography and exquisite room drawings. It's a sumptuous showcase of interior decorating ideas and trendsetting design details that add rich character to any home. My copy is 'well-loved'.

On April 28th, Charlotte's newest book, Garden Inspirations will be available—just in time for Spring and Summer. And I am so stinking excited people! Here is a quick overview of her newest treasure. 

An Inviting Entry

Just as an empty chair welcomes a visitor with its open arms so, too, can the approach to a house. These hornbeam hedges line one side of the drive, while a double border acts as another screen and backdrop to the white fence along the road. There is a feeling of anticipation mixed with invitation. The same principle of invitation can be translated from one discipline to another. Gardening, architecture, landscape design, and interior design: The atmosphere of the garden is the single most important element—that ephemeral quality gardeners seek where all the senses are awakened and the essence of the place is etched in our memories.

A Winding Meandering Path

Beloved gardener Robert Dash said it best: "All good garden paths should lead to loitering with fine intent, and if they don't, then something is wrong indeed. Loitering is horticulturally permissible behavior." Boxwood—a shrub that has close ties to the James River plantations, Colonial Williamsburg, and everywhere in Richmond—is an important requirement for Southern gardens and property. They make excellent hedges and sculptures in the garden. Boxwood hedges can be rounded, squared off, and snaked through other borders. They are the quintessential border bush, used in the humblest of gardens to the stateliest of palaces.

Roses, Roses, and......

Once a year we have this joy, the joy that roses bring…persuading us, imploring us, to enjoy the moment! Anyone who grows roses, has grown roses, or reads or dreams about growing roses knows one thing: Roses are not without their challenges. However, the benefits, the beauty, and the joy far exceed any and all heartache. We must have roses!

Herbs and Edibles

A good kitchen garden—what the French call the "potager"—can ooze with basils, marjoram, sorrel, oregano, and rosemary. Fruit trees are a huge plus, as you look forward to the next crop of fruit, showing promise of a pie or tart or two. Of course it's wonderful to cook with the fresh herbs you grow personal, but herbs also make great companions in floral arrangements, like scented geranium, tomato leaves, mint, parsley, and lemon verbena.


Wildflowers grow in a world with no rules. They preach what there is and to make the most of it. Growing up, I remember picking blackberries along the road to our home and grabbing honeysuckle, Queen Anne's lace, and chicory. I remember the lady slipper orchids that we found in the woods. I would bring them home for arrangements. It was there, deep in the woods, that I learned to appreciate beauty in its natural habitat, and that the simple things can be the most sublime.

A Collection Of Pretty Containers

Garden rooms filled with silver vessels, woven baskets, and blue-and-white porcelain containers are a beautiful thing indeed. I am not a vase snob, by which I mean, if I like it, I buy it. Whether from a thrift shop or an antiques shop, the provenance is irrelevant when it comes to collecting vases. Things find you along your path or you find them—there was an emotional reaction that caused the two of you to go home together. I don't know how many vases I own, but I find that there is always some shape, some size, some color that has escaped me. As a collector…nothing beats the thrill of the hunt. Antique, new, thrift shop—the origin is unimportant.

A Quiet Spot To Sit

If you had to describe your garden what would you say? Is it ornamental? Does it have sweeping vistas? Or does it contain intimate spaces, small rooms—gardens within gardens? Like rooms in a house, exterior rooms also want furnishings. Drawing your eye to a quiet corner, at the end of your lawn, or under a tree. Garden seating begs you to stay awhile, to sit and enjoy the view and the fruits of your labor.

Gardening. You can be at it for a few minutes or a few hours—it never really matters, because the joy is in the doing. While gardens are truly personal, intimate endeavors, these are some essentials for carving out a perfect patch.



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