In the Garden:
New England
March, 2006
Regional Report

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These azaleas were a welcome sight for winter-weary eyes at the recent New England Flower Show in Boston.

Fresh Ideas for a New Garden

Gardeners are an unusually enthusiastic bunch, not surprising when you consider every year brings new plants, new tools, new techniques, new opportunities, new gardens to visit.... There's no need to feel stuck in a rut in your gardening endeavors. If you are seeking some inspiration, you have only to head to a bookstore and browse the new gardening books and magazines, or visit a local greenhouse or nursery, or attend a garden show or workshop.

That's why I head to the New England Flower Show in Boston every March. After a long winter, I need to see those brilliant azaleas in bloom and smell the hyacinths and be surrounded by lushness. Plus, I always pick up a new idea or two.

This year for the first time I went by myself, to be totally free to go at my own pace, to sit in lecture after lecture, or walk the exhibition hall of garden vignettes and floral displays for hours. All of which I did. While gardening is a social activity in many ways, it's also a personal one, and it's important to have time to let ideas mill around in your head and rearrange themselves. Even though cold climate gardeners have a winter of "rest" to plan the next year, I have yet to figure everything out before I begin digging in the soil. For me, gardening is a fluid process -- it's not just about "finishing the job."

There were many beautiful garden displays at the show, many artful arrangements, even strutting peacocks with brilliant plumage, but my favorite was a sand dune "garden," complete with shells and beach glass, an upturned row boat, mist rolling in, and the sound of waves slapping the shore. It was simple yet very evocative. It's the one that will stay with me. It's a reminder that a garden doesn't have to be a jungle of plants or a riot of color or anything other than a place that has meaning for you.

I grew up near the coast, and still have to get my ocean fix every year, so while I'm not planning on building any sand dunes in my yard, there is one element from that beach scene that I'd like to incorporate in my garden: beach glass. I've seen recycled glass mulch that looks just like beach glass, and it's so smooth you can run your hands through it and walk on it barefoot. Maybe I'll place some around a granite millstone that I'm turning into a fountain, and it will evoke memories of summer days at the beach.


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