The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Turtle Pond Again

Three years ago, I did a post about Turtle Pond at my wife's family's cabin in Wells, Maine. I never tire of observing the plants and wildlife here and it seemed time for another post. Every year, I do some subtle editing of the plants along the edge of the pond to reveal and frame the views from the house and deck. Theses three photographs are in order looking left to right from the deck. There is much to learn about textures of foliage and the tapestry of how plants mingle in nature. This is a pond that expands when beavers periodically dam the brook that drains the pond. Many of the trees, mostly red maples, that where around the pond were drowned and died leaving skeletons that are bird magnets. Many mornings we wake up to find a Great Blue Heron sailing off the pond.

I have been studying the work of Peit Oudolf in his most recent book, Planting: A New Perspective, and his work in the ground at The High Line in Manhattan and I am struck at how his most recent gardens replicate how plants intertwine in nature. I am seeing it here at Turtle Pond and in many of the fields and wetlands I am noticing on bike rides in the southern coast of Maine.

The challenge for me is how to make this naturalistic style work in my own garden, especially the woodland garden. Several of the public gardens in Peterborough that would benefit from this style: the new garden at Putnam Park and the three gardens at Teixeira Park. This method of planting doesn't use blocks of plants, like a Gertrude Jekyll style or even Oudolf's earlier work, which is fairly easy to imagine creating. Plants in nature have drifts, singles, intermingling and every combination in between. It is constantly fluctuating and evolving depending on light, water, soil conditions, weather  and perhaps most importantly, survival of the fittest.


  1. The main way to maintain and establish a garden such as the one pictured is much like you stated. It needs to let nature run the course. Red Maples are simply breathtaking and always add color in Fall that is oh so lovely. Pond plants would be a great addition for what you are wanting too.

  2. Tammy, I'm sure your right. Now I need to build a pond in my own garden!

  3. The photos make me think of the light and I'm wondering whether the photos were taken at nearly the same time. I particularly like the multitude of points of reflected light in the first one, and the small pockets of deep shadow that give that overall shimmering effect. The second photo is much warmer and I wonder if it was taken later, with the sun higher in the sky. Or is this just a difference of camera exposure?

  4. James,
    They were taken (with my iPhone) at the same time. The pictures were taken in the morning so I think the shadows are the differences in the light you see. The plantings at Turtle Pond always reminds me of Federal Twist. It is a magical place in the morning and at dusk.

  5. Michael, that similarity is what caught my eye. Phil grew up near there in Saco. Have you visited the quaking bogs outside Saco? Beautiful, and rather unique, environment.

  6. Great minds (maybe average mind in my case) think alike! I will have to get the information on the Saco bogs. Sounds like something we should visit. This is my favorite time year in the garden. Your gardens are looking lush and lovely in the blogosphere!



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