Judith's Garden


THE GARDEN IN fall is full of vibrant colors that match the surrounding forest. Photo by Dick Conrad
Fall is here — that magnificent but fleeting season when the forests array themselves in their most splendid finery as they bid a final adieu to summer. But, not to be outdone by the surrounding forests, as the season gradually draws to a close, our gardens also offer their own grande finale. Here are some of the delights of the season in my Goshen garden: Blue flowers create the perfect foil for all the yellow and bronze colors in our gardens at this time of year, especially Autumn Joy Sedum and the ubiquitous Black Eyed Susans. And the best blue flowers for fall are undoubtedly the hardy...

TO CREATE A pleasing spatial layout, consider both the shapes of the flower beds (the positive space) as well as the shape of the lawn (the negative space) and how they balance one another. Photo by Dick Conrad
As I discussed in my last article — where I talked about the “ages and stages” of a garden — our gardens are living creations that slowly evolve with the passage of time. Surely, one of the delights for every gardener is when our initial creation — or perhaps one that we inherited from a previous gardener — achieves a bountiful and satisfying feeling of maturity. Dick and I have been creating our Goshen garden for over 20 years, and today it has definitely reached adulthood. Slowly but surely those little plants I brought home from the nursery as babies have achieved the “grows to” size that...

TODAY JUDITH AND Dick’s main garden, created over 20 years ago, has a mature and settled look. Photo by Dick Conrad
Creating a garden is like taking a journey. An adventure which, at the outset, we don’t quite know where it will lead. Gardens are also living creations, first conceived and then lovingly nurtured by their owners over the years. And, like all living creations, our gardens evolve over time, gradually passing through various life-stages — from young, to middle-aged and finally reaching that glorious maturity we dreamed about when we began our journey. The Early Years If you are developing a new garden from scratch — or even continuing one that someone else has started — it is incredibly helpful...

BEAUTIFUL PEONIES AT Cady’s Falls Botanical Garden in Morrisville. Photo by Dick Conrad
Peonies surely deserve the title of “June Garden Queens!” With huge blooms, often measuring six inches and more across, in colors from the deepest crimson to creamy white — and even some that are buttery yellow — peonies are a delight to behold. Peonies are long-lived perennials which are best planted in late August or early September. But June is the perfect time to see them in bloom and consider which of the hundreds of cultivars available you might want to add to your own garden. June is also when some azaleas and rhododendrons are still in bloom, so again this is a great opportunity to...

A TIGER SWALLOWTAIL butterfly feasting on the nectar it finds in Judith’s Meyer Lilacs. Photo by Dick Conrad
The Merry Month of May O the month of May, the merry month of May,     So frolic, so gay, and so green, so green, so green! O, and then did I unto my true love say:     “Sweet Peg, thou shalt be my summer's queen!” Thomas Decker (1572-1632)   For me the beginning of May signals the midpoint through that wonderful season of renewal that we call “spring.” And this year, as so often happens, April was a playful tease. First we had a continuous spell of hot dry weather when everyone rushed outdoors to get a head start on their gardens. Then the mood dramatically changed. In mid-month the skies...

JUDITH WITH ONE of her favorite camellias. Photo by Dick Conrad
When people mention a greenhouse, the image that often comes to mind is a vast hooped structure, 150-feet long or more, filled with growing plants, either to yield food or flowers during the coldest months, or alternatively to be sold at garden centers or planted in the fields once spring arrives. But, for avid gardeners, a greenhouse — sometimes called a sun-room or conservatory — is a far more modest structure, typically attached to the house, where we can enjoy plants throughout the cold snowy months of a Vermont winter. A COOL GREENHOUSE My greenhouse is just 18-feet wide and 10-feet...

THIS CLUMP OF hardy buttery yellow hardy mums in Judith’s blueberry bed reflects the colors of the season. Photo by Dick Conrad
Autumn is surely Vermont’s most beloved season.  For me, the early morning view across the misty valley to nearby Mount Moosalamoo, alive with the colors of fall — reds, yellows and oranges — is a sight I will treasure all winter.  And, as I walk through the autumnal forests, all around I see lots of little birds busily seeking out nourishment — seeds, fruit and insects — in anticipation of their upcoming journeys to warmer wintering grounds. My garden too seems perfectly in tune with the season. The blueberry bushes and Miss Kim lilacs have turned a glorious bronze, and the serviceberry...

A MIX OF Phlox, Black-Eyed Susans and other perennials grace Judith’s fall garden in Goshen. Photo by Dick Conrad
GOSHEN — It’s hard to believe that we are entering the final chapter of the garden for this year. But there is still activity to watch and plenty of flowers to enjoy. Every summer, for a scant three months, a profusion of tiny hummingbirds birds whirr around our Vermont gardens — and they never cease to amaze and amuse us humans.  But now, as a sure sign of the changing season, after a week of frenzied activity around our feeders, our resident humming birds are leaving on their momentous journeys to their wintering grounds in Central America. All of a sudden the garden seems eerily quiet. But...

THE FLOWER HEADS of Tussock grass create a delicate haze among some colorful perennials. Photo by Dick Conrad
When we think about creating a beautiful garden, most often it is the flowers that we think about first. But great gardens are much more than lots of pretty blossoms! Especially important is the way we incorporate different kinds of contrast into our gardens. Contrast is the secret design ingredient. This starts out with a ground plan that includes a thoughtful mix of sunny areas and shady areas, as well as a compelling interplay of positive spaces (primarily the planted areas but also hardscape) versus negative spaces (primarily the lawn but also woodland or meadow areas).  And we can also...

THE GENTLY COLORED petals of “Coral Charm” surround the yellow stamens and a central green pistil. Photo by Dick Conrad
June is peony time!  With their massive blooms in shades of red, pink, white and yellow, peonies — one of the most beautiful and venerated garden plants — are taking center stage in our Vermont gardens. For a match made in heaven, try combining them with some of the blue flowers, like salvia, catmint or irises, which also bloom in June. Over 2,000 years ago the people of China started cultivating peonies as a flavoring for food. Then, during the elegant Tang dynasty (618-907 C.E.) they experimented with crossing different species to obtain more beautiful blooms — the genesis of a worldwide...

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