Thursday, June 15, 2023

Garden Inspiration


Garden shed at Airbnb in Abingdon

    Last month we took a weekend getaway to an Airbnb in Abingdon, Virginia. The two story "Carriage House", as it was called, sat behind the owner's historic house on Main Street. It was beautifully decorated, comfortable, and clean. It was also within walking distance to the head of the Virginia Creeper Trail and to several downtown restaurants and businesses which made it an ideal place to stay. The beautiful gardens surrounding the carriage house and the main house were a pleasant surprise and we found ourselves spending most of our time outdoors on the private patio. We learned from the owner their garden was to be on the Abingdon garden tour in two weeks time. It was a lovely, whimsical garden with wandering paths. We found benches placed in out of the way places and a gentle creek along the back edge of the yard. It was both well tended and accidental at the same time. For example, each planter was strategically placed but it was filled with a plant that looked a little wild like it had shown up all o its own. The wall fountain, a modern addition, looked like it had been there for ages. A small tool shed was built completely out of white paint chipped windows and an old wheelbarrow stood nearby overflowing with hens and chicks. It was easy to imagine this place in the French countryside somewhere and that we were much farther from home than merely an hour and a half drive.

Potting bench at Airbnb in Abingdon  
   The biggest takeaway I got from this trip was the desire to go home and get into my garden and play in it. Margie's garden inspired me with new ideas like putting my hens and chicks in adorable little pots! I found myself saying, "Why didn't I think of that?!" when I saw a pepper plant in a pot with little petunias planted around it or a bed containing flower combinations I never would have thought to place together. It was timely that I had not yet planted my own garden so many of these ideas I could incorporate without spending any extra money. It was all the same type of stuff I would normally plant but somehow different. I did make one splurge and that was to buy a lovely cement planter that I call "Dancing Angels". One of the antique shops in Abingdon had a wonderful assortment of heavy cement planters and bird baths out behind the shop and that is where we picked up this planter. It will be eons before this planter ever wears out and it makes me smile every time I look at it. I also found some plants at a little health food co-op in downtown Abingdon that we walked past. I was excited to find two things I have wanted to plant for along time- a rhubarb plant and a fig tree.
     Gardening in general is never a cheap hobby but it is an extremely creative outlet and it pays back big in satisfaction over the long run. You definitely have to step back and look at it with a long eye, never becoming too discouraged with an annual failure. A tree or perennial might become diseased and die but you plant something else in its place and move on. It simply opens up new possibilities. If cucumbers won't grow in your soil, plant beets instead. Or, you could spend a gazillion dollars on good soil and grow the cucumbers; it's your garden so you can do whatever you want! I try not to calculate the true cost of my home grown tomatoes because it really makes no rational sense at all. Steve is not a gardener but he will dig a hole if I ask or put up electric wire around the vegetable garden for me. He does not always understand why I do the things I do, like pull up half the yarrow I put in just the year before (It's invasive.) or ask him if we can please (!) pull up the half dead bush because I can't stand to look at it one minute more. (We compromised and I pruned it way back.) I find that I have gained more pleasure from my garden this year than I have in quite a while. This is partially due to better health but the rest of it is to do with inspiration. A garden is also a source for healing, comfort, and respite. A garden, and nature in general, is a balm to the nervous system. It is worth its weight in gold for the calming effect it gives just by sitting in its beauty and taking a few deep breaths. I did not expect to find garden inspiration at our Abingdon getaway but I am happy for the way Margie shared her garden with us and for her son's lovely Airbnb. 
     I picked a few of my flowers today and placed them on the blanket chest in my bedroom just for me to enjoy. If I calculated the cost, they are probably my one hundred and fifty dollar flowers in a jelly jar. They are worth every penny for the joy they give me when I walk into the room.

The following are a few photos from our garden so far this year. I hope you are inspired! : )

Yarrow, miniature baby's breath, bee balm and annuals in the pot.

Steve built our shed and the raised beds years ago. A crab apple tree provides shade for white and pink astilbe, fern, hellebore, and two varieties of coral bells

A Carolina Jessamine grows up the pergola. The red plum tree on the right is only about twenty years old but it is reaching the end of its life span. I will be sad will be sad to let this tree go because it gives lovely shade in the afternoon.

Dancing Angels planter with double pink impatiens.

I copied Margie's pepper plant with flowers idea. I chose red flowers to reflect the heat of the cayenne pepper plant in there.

I found this wall planter for a bargain $10 at a Rutland, Vermont antique shop last week. It's new, but what a deal! I just planted it two days ago and I can't wait for the plants to fill out and spill over the top.

I lined most of our beds with salvaged bricks from a smokehouse that was demolished years ago on the property next door.

The garden paying us back in lettuce. The gathering basket was a gift from our daughter for my birthday a few years ago.

1 comment:

  1. Isn't it great to come home inspired? Everything looks great. I LOVE your garden shed.
    Happy gardening ;-)