The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Dublin Trail

The other day, I hiked Mt Monadnock, the majestic 3,165 foot mountain here in southwestern New Hampshire.  I chose my favorite route, a 2.4 mile long path on the North side of the mountain called the Dublin Trail. I started out with snow shoes but enough people had already been on the trail that boots with MICROspikes (a sort of portable, pocket-sized crampon-like traction device) was all that was needed. I like hiking in the winter and experiencing the, sometimes harsh weather. In this case, it was a clear day about 28 degrees F.

Whenever I am hiking, I am always looking for inspiration for the garden. I liked all the bark interest on the birch trees about half the way up the trail.

The vertical trunks against the snow--something to emulate in my evolving woodland garden

This tree had a great trunk with character

In the early 1800's a series of fires denuded the upper part of the mountain of most of the vegetation

There are still wind-blown red spruce and scrubby shrubs as you approach tree-line

The Dublin Trail and the Marlboro Trail merge near the top of the mountain

A view of the Pumpelly Ridge on the northeast side of the Mountain 

The Peak of Mount Monadnock

When I got home, I took this shot of Monadnock from my garden. I continued to be inspired by my hikes in New Hampshire. Right now, at this time of year, it is the combinations of conifers, trees with interesting bark, and the structure of the shrubs that remind me of all that the garden can offer in the long winter months here in New England. As much as I love (and often incorporate into the garden) all the enticing exotic woodies that I discover at places like the Arnold Arboretum (a future post) I remain committed to making the woodland garden feel at home here in New Hampshire.


  1. Looks like a beautiful hike, though I don't envy you the cold. My favorite winter woodies are those scurbby unknowns in the 7th photo from the top and the 3rd, 4th and 5th from the bottom (if I count right). I wonder what they are. I like their spidery tracings against the snow.

    1. James, I like those shrubs as well-I have to figure what they are. I have been visualizing placing evergreens and interesting shrubs in strategic locations in the woodland garden to block views of my neighbors while enhancing my views of Monadnock and the hills in the distance. I have to get that program you used in your last post to draw them in!

  2. Wonderful, Michael! I agree completely, that the inspiration for any garden comes from a wider, less civilised context.
    Seeing plants, like these birches, in the wild, shows how nature wants things to be. There's something about letting our gardens be wild in whatever way we can manage, that can bring about a delightful concurrence between human will and a bigger, older will.
    I, too, have a fondness for the cold.
    I'm sure you're going to find mountains of inspiration.

    1. Faisal, I am noticing the interesting negative spaces that the white of the snow in the background creates. I want to make good use of them as I develop my woodland garden. I will also have to work on striking a balance between keeping certain things under control while letting other things do what they please.

    2. Michael, if I could, what I want to do is create not a garden but a landscape, perhaps a la Capability Brown.
      The first Europeans who landed in Australia were struck by the view of what looked like parklands. This was because the Aborigines had torched the land for millennia, for hunting/caring purposes. What they saw were rolling, grassy hills, with intermittent, scattered trees.
      That's what I want to do, so I understand your yearning for a blankness, a snowscape.
      I've visited a 'garden' way out in the country, owned by a member of an old land-holding family. He has done away with any notion of a garden, and is creating views instead. It is exquisite and entirely unknown by the gardening world. You look out from the house to rolling lands, and trees, appropriately placed. There is an order ( highly subjective ) that makes you feel you are in an art-work.
      That is what I would like to do, to make people feel they are in an artwork.

    3. Faisal, I like the idea of making people feel like they are in an artwork. My garden, in town, is small and I wouldn't be able to pull off an open garden but I want to be sure, that as the garden matures and becomes more shady, that there are areas that have openings to the sky. All these trees can close in on you. It happens both very slowly and very quickly if that is possible. I will have to remember this yearning for openness at Teixeira Park, here in Peterborough. Across, the Nubanusit River, at Teixeira, there is a beautiful field in a neighboring property. One of my goals is to remove some trees to create a view of that lovely open space. Thanks, as always, for you thoughtful comment.

  3. Hi Michael,
    Lovely post and beautiful pictures. Hiking and being in the woods is definitely the way to really enjoy winter. I love the view of the mountain from your garden. Where Noah and I live now at the school, we see this same mountain each morning as the sun rises up behind it- we have the morning view and you have the afternoon view! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Helen,

      I love the idea that you and I are enjoying the Monadnock from the opposite direction. I try to hike it as often as possible. I do Pack Monadnock most mornings before work and I get yet another view of Monadnock there. I enjoyed your post about Chanticleer in the winter!

  4. Went snowshoeing last Jan for the first time...liked it even more than cross country skiing. (tho downhill is a blast) Sounds like my kind of hike, peaceful I would imagine with the snow dampening harsh sounds?

    Timberline at 3000' elevation? it's >12,000'! Though if the east keeps warming and the SW mountains keep cooling, maybe not for long.

    1. It is a great hike in all seasons. Here, the timberline is artificial and was caused by man-mad fires. Some were purportedly to get rid of a population of wolves.



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