The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Spirit: Morning has broken

Last evening, I trekked with two gardening friends to the Trinity Church in Boston to hear Dan Pearson, the influential English landscape designer, talk about spirit. The traffic was dense and sleet was slick on the highway. It seemed like a stupid idea but what a wonderful way to spend a winter evening! Bill and Eileen, two extraordinary gardeners who live off the land like a Nearing and garden like a Lloyd, were delightful companions. We talked garden for four hours nonstop.

Dan's talk was beautiful. It was in support of his new book, Spirit: Garden Inspiration. It is not your usual gardening book. Stephen Orr's NY Times review says that Pearson focuses "his creative eye into something that lies between the introverted style of a diary and and the best, most idiosyncratic aspects of a blog given the permanence between hard covers." Dan invited us to take more time to look. He implored us to create gardens that connected to the power of the landscape in our own unique area; to that spirit of place that gives each place its identity. So this morning I attempted to look more closely around my own environment.

Four mornings a week, I climb Pack Monadnock, a 1.3 mile hike near our town with my hiking buddies. We meet at 6:30 with a mailman's disregard for the weather. Each day has been getting longer and we have been witnessing some stunning sunrises. I took these two pictures this morning. I wanted to capture the scene that is special to New Hampshire: the weather beaten oak trees at the peak of Pack and the view toward Boston we see each morning.

I am starting a wild garden in the lowest terrace in my garden. It has a view of the big brother to Pack, grand Mount Monadnock. I have chosen two evergreens to mimic the black spruce and white pine of the New Hampshire mountains I love so much. I have chosen Picea orientalis 'Gowdy' for its diminutive and elegant habit and small, nearly black needles. Unlike the commonly used Norway spruce, 'Gowdy' will never be too large for my small garden. My other choice, Pinus koraiensis 'Morris Blue', will grow no more than twenty five feet in my lifetime and has handsome bluish silver needles and a tight and sturdy habit. My next mission is to add native and exotic perennials that will create a lush tapestry that will feel like some special wood in New Hampshire that has hidden in it newly discovered treasures that feel entirely at home.


  1. Happy to find your blog and a kindred spirit. I attended Dan's lecture in New York (the one at the Grolier Club, not the longer talk at the New York Botanical Garden), and was, as I expected, in a sort of rapture by the time he finished. His Vista lecture on the Gardens Illustrated web site is worth several listenings.

  2. James,
    I saw Dan speak at Hollister House in CT a couple of years ago. Always a facinating speaker. I'll give the Vista lecture a listen.



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